HMRC is a wealth of information for tax filers and small businesses, whether you're a seasoned pro or new to self-employment. Its help services are seen as vital to many, but they can only do so much, that’s why accountants and Self Assessment filing services exist. These help people to navigate the jargon and ensure that they can file with the utmost confidence.
It has been well documented in the news that HMRC’s resources are very stretched due to intense demand, so it’s only natural that they would look at areas where they can cut or reduce resources to give more to other areas.
In a surprise announcement 8th June 2023, HMRC announced that they are closing their Self Assessment helpline for three months from 12 June to 4 September, with taxpayers having to rely on online guidance, digital assistant and webchat to answer their queries .
Richard Hattersley of AccountingWeb reported on the closure shortly after the announcement and explored the impact this will have on the service:
“The tax department explained that the “seasonal model” will free up 350 full-time equivalent HMRC advisers to answer calls and taxpayer correspondence in other areas, and this will enable the advisers to answer 6,600 calls each day.”
“According to stats from the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), nearly 1.2m people called the helpline during the same period of three month closure in 2022, with over 900,000 people staying on to try to speak to someone.”
Whilst it is understandable that HMRC wants to respond in a seasonal manner to demand because of their already overstretched services, not everyone, regardless of digital proficiency, wants to rely solely on digital services to get answers. Especially when such advice could be the difference between getting your Self Assessment wrong and paying thousands in extra taxes, or fines further down the line.
Seb Maley, CEO of Qdos, our self-employed Crunch Protect insurance partner, said the decision highlights the “chaos at the tax office”. He added, “HMRC can dress it up however it wants, but closing the phone lines for self-employed taxpayers is only going to result in problems.”
Of course, that is good for companies like Crunch which sells expert Self Assessment services for a fixed fee. But, we’d rather be selling our services to people who need expert checking, advice and guidance because the world of tax is just too confusing. Not because HMRC aren’t providing a basic service to taxpayers to alleviate their concerns or answer basic tax questions.
We believe that the human element of advice and guidance is as important as it has ever been, if not more so. One area that HMRC and Crunch certainly agree on is the importance of filing early and that HMRC needs to prioritise its resources. There is naturally a limit to what HMRC can reasonably give advice on. Hence specialist accountancy firms such as Crunch exist to support the self-employed of the UK and ensure they are not alone when filing their tax returns.
Thankfully, Crunch clients get unlimited expert advice and accountancy support with their plans. Sole Trader Pro clients and Limited Company Premium clients also get Self Assessments included as standard, whilst our early bird Self Assessment filing service is currently only £99.50+VAT for a limited time.
Not only do you get expert advice and guidance, you also get peace of mind that you’ve had an expert review your tax position and file it on your behalf. We’ve done 50,000+ of them over the years.
So don’t wait for the phone lines to reopen in September! As it’ll be getting ever closer to the filing deadline, and our early bird rate will have long since ended and see the cost of our own expert Self Assessment filing service increased in price.