If you recently attempted to contact HMRC via phone or mail, you may have experienced long delays in speaking to someone on their telephone hotline or obtaining a reply by email / post.
We have recently been instructed on a case where delays in the HMRC department paying valid R&D Tax Credits have resulted in another department threatening to impose a future Security Notice for a PAYE/NIC late payment; which is clearly unreasonable but could lead to a criminal offence by a Director served personally with such a Notice of Requirement to pay a Security.
HMRC is required by law in some cases to respond to some enquiries within 30 days however often fail to meet their own deadlines. In other cases there are no deadlines set by legislation, and often this is where the majority of delays take place.
Our taxation practice is the foundation of the firm and our tax team is composed of knowledgeable tax lawyers (some of whom worked at HMRC) who can help you handle your tax issues. For the best outcome, our ex-HRMC lawyers will advise you on the UK’s intricate tax laws. We have years of expertise in dealing with complex tax problems, including negotiating with HMRC and handling tax appeals before Tax Tribunals and in the High Court.
Why is HMRC taking so long?
HMRC established goals for how they wanted to interact with the general public. These service levels deteriorated in 2020, which is understandable given the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is a misperception that tax agents can contact HMRC directly; this is untrue albeit there is a dedicated agent call centre. The reality is that HMRC is still underfunded and suffering from Covid-19’s lasting impacts, which included a huge backlog caused by outdated technology that wasn’t designed for remote work.
What to do when HMRC is taking too long to answer your query?
How quickly your enquiry should be resolved is set out in the HMRC enquiry manual and published response guide. If your enquiry hasn’t been answered by HMRC by the given date, you can utilise the enquiry manual and the response guide and complain to HMRC to check. The guidance also includes a scheduled response time for each department.
The HMRC Charter, which outlines how HMRC thinks taxpayers and agents should act in a reasonable manner toward one another, is also published by HMRC. It is helpful to know and mention when communicating with HMRC about your enquiry that if an answer is not given in accordance with the HMRC inquiry handbook, HMRC may not be abiding by the charter.
If necessary, you can file a formal complaint. Without an escalated enquiry, delays frequently linger many months or longer.
HMRC Service Dashboard
HMRC has developed a service dashboard to aid taxpayers in understanding which services are currently being delayed. This can be used to determine the probable timeline HMRC is currently working with for a variety of situations.
Check when you can expect a reply from HMRC
The HMRC has also created a feature called “Check when you can expect a reply from HMRC”. Similar to the service dashboard, this tool allows you to enter the date that you sent your claim or correspondence, and it will provide you with an estimated date by which you should expect a response.
Currently, this tool can only predict the date of a response for the following issues:
- Income tax:
- Marriage allowance claims
- P87 refund of employment expenses (postal and online claims)
- Refund of tax paid from an employment or pension (postal and online claims)
- Registration for Self-Assessment (postal and online)
- Paper Self-Assessment tax return submission
- Amendment to a Self-Assessment tax return
- Refund from an online or paper Self-Assessment tax return
- Penalty appeals (post and online)
3. Tax Credits:
- Report a change of circumstances (postal and online)
- Request an award notice
- Dispute a tax credit overpayment
4. Child benefit:
- Report a change of circumstances (postal and online)
- Request a proof of entitlement letter
- VAT registration or deregistration
6. Corporation Tax:
- Repayment due to loss carry back
Use Accurate HMRC Telephone Numbers
HMRC has a number of distinct departments with advisors that deal with a variety of difficulties. Therefore, you can save time by calling the appropriate number for your enquiry rather than the general contact number to avoid being sent from side to side or becoming lost in the menus.
The following are a few of the various phone numbers for the various departments you might need to contact:
Self-Assessment helpline: 0300 200 3310
Child Benefits helpline: 0300 200 3100
Employer helpline: 0300 200 3200
Income Tax helpline: 0300 200 3300
National Insurance helpline: 0300 200 3500
HMRC online services helpdesk: 0300 200 3600
Online debit and credit card payment support: 0300 200 3601
VAT general enquiries: 0300 200 3700
Tax Credits helpline: 0345 300 3900
You can find more numbers on the contact HMRC page.
Expert Tax Investigation Lawyers
If you need HMRC Tax Investigation advice, we are available to aid you at every stage of the HMRC investigate process. Members of our legal team have first-hand experience and knowledge of the internal workings of HMRC. We can provide you with the very best representation in negotiations with HMRC and defending all forms of HMRC fraud, tax inquiry, tax fraud investigation, criminal tax evasion and HMRC enquiries and investigations. Our team specialises in successfully challenging HMRC decisions and will assist you in every aspect of the investigation.
Our specialist Tax Solicitors and Barristers deliver expert technical knowledge, strong negotiation skills and respected advice, which can make a pronounced difference to eventual tax penalties, charges and liability.
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