How does HMRC deal with people with additional needs?
All customers potentially face problems when interacting with HMRC due to the complexity of its work. However, these problems can be made worse for some customers with additional needs such as a disability. Here we explore the various services that HMRC offer for people with additional needs. Full details of services are available on GOV.UK.
I am disabled, what can I expect from HMRC?
There are over 10 million disabled people in the UK and most of these are HMRC customers. HMRC have a legal obligation under the Equality Act to provide an accessible service for all of their customers.
Public Sector Equality Duty
The Public Sector Equality Duty contained in s149 of the Equality Act 2010, means that public bodies have to consider all individuals when carrying out their day-to-day work – in shaping policy, in delivering services and in relation to their own employees.
Specifically, it requires that public bodies have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination
- advance equality of opportunity
- foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities
Advancing equality of opportunity means public bodies have to:
- remove or minimise disadvantages for groups of people
- take steps to meet the needs of protected groups of people (which can included disabled people)
- encourage all groups of people to participate in public life or other activity in situations where their participation is low
Public bodies are required to publish relevant, proportionate information showing compliance with the Equality Duty, and to set equality objectives. You can find the latest report on how HMRC meet their obligation on GOV.UK.
You can also find the HMRC Charter on GOV.UK. The charter, which was re-written in November 2020, sets out the standards of behaviour and values HMRC should aspire to in their dealings with people and businesses using their services.
It is an important protection for taxpayers and every year HMRC have to report on how they are performing against the standards expected of them.
HMRC have published principles of support for people who use their services who may need extra help, this guidance is on GOV.UK.
If you have a complaint about the way you have been treated, HMRC has an established complaints process within which they address issues relating to equality. You can find out more about what to do if you have a complaint and/or what to do if it is not settled to your satisfaction in the first instance, on our How do I complain to HMRC? page.
In our news piece: Dealing with HMRC if you have mental health conditions, we look at some of the specific help that HMRC offer to disabled people, including the making of ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010.
Despite all this, a significant proportion of the complaints the Adjudicator deals with are from people who consider themselves disabled, which suggests that people who have disabilities and additional needs may not be adequately catered for by HMRC.
If you have specific examples of where you do not think HMRC are handling the needs of people with disabilities well, we would be pleased to hear them so we can put them forward to HMRC.
How can I contact HMRC if I have impaired hearing or speech?
For basic information on contacting HMRC if you have additional needs, see GOV.UK.
If you have a speech impairment, are deaf or hard of hearing, you can contact HMRC by text relay or by textphone.
- Text relay: you can contact HMRC by dialing the text relay service prefix number 18001 followed by the relevant HMRC telephone number. For example, the phone number for general income tax enquiries is 0300 200 3300. You can contact them by Relay by dialling 18001 0300 200 3300. Further details are available on GOV.UK
- Textphone/minicom: HMRC offer a textphone service on some of their helplines. (Note that HMRC are considering removing the minicom service in favour of the Next Generation Text Service.)
You can also use webchat to talk to someone. You can get further details of this service on our page How do I get help from HMRC with tax and tax credits?
HMRC have a series of British Sign Language videos that can be watched on the HMRC YouTube channel, including:
- How to contact HMRC
- Your Charter
- Your Personal Tax Account
- How to contact HMRC if you have a complaint
- Marriage Allowance
In addition, the Royal Association for Deaf People (RAD) and HMRC are working together to make information and advice more accessible for deaf people in the UK. This includes an option to contact HMRC directly using RAD’s video interpreting service which gives access to registered, qualified interpreters via your PC or tablet. You can find out more on the dedicated website.
What if I'm blind or partially sighted?
For basic information on contacting HMRC if you have additional needs see GOV.UK.
If you have a visual impairment, dyslexia or other disability and need material in an alternative format HMRC can produce most paper forms, leaflets and other information in the following formats:
- large print
- audio on CD
- text on CD (standard or large print)
- other formats on request, for example, coloured paper
However, it takes more time to produce material in an alternative format so there may be a delay in receiving your correspondence.
HMRC has a Visually Impaired Media unit which provides the enhanced products. They cannot be contacted directly. You should call HMRC first, using the relevant contact number. Tell the adviser what you need and they will arrange for it to be sent out to you by the special unit.
What if I just need a bit of extra support from HMRC?
If you are having problems dealing with your tax or tax credits or are struggling to resolve an issue with them, HMRC have a team that is specially trained to deal with vulnerable taxpayers and may be able to help - the Extra Support Service.