HMRC Helpline numbers – a change for the better

Published on 17 June 2013

LITRG welcomes the move to 0300 numbers for HMRC’s VAT, National Insurance, income tax and self assessment helplines. These should result in better services for taxpayers on low incomes who have for too long faced disproportionate charges. We believe that other HMRC helplines will follow over the coming months.

The combination of 0845 numbers, long waiting times and pay as you go (PAYG) mobiles (often used by people on low incomes) can mean that calling HMRC can be disproportionately costly for taxpayers.

LITRG looked at how much it costs to ring HMRC on 0845 numbers in 2006, and welcomed a consultation by the telephone regulator Ofcom in 2011. This consultation document recommended that 0345 numbers be used rather than their 0845 counterparts, giving HMRC the chance to adopt a fairer telephone policy and to help their most vulnerable callers. An 0345 number for the tax credits helpline soon followed, with 0300 numbers being introduced for four more helplines in April 2013 .

HMRC have announced that with effect from 12 June there are three new VAT helpline numbers:

  • VAT Enquiries – 0300 200 3700;
  • VAT Online Services Helpdesk – 0300 200 3701;
  • VAT, Customs & Excise Welsh Language Line – 0300 200 3705.

With effect from 13 June, the following National Insurance helplines will be available:

  • National Insurance enquiries for employees and individuals – 0300 200 3500;
  • National Insurance registrations – 0300 200 3502;
  • National Insurance deficiency enquiries – 0300 200 3503;
  • Newly Self-Employed Helpline – 0300 200 3504;
  • National Insurance enquiries for the self-employed – 0300 200 3505;
  • National Insurance enquiries for non-UK residents – 0300 200 3506;
  • Contracted Out Pensions enquiries – 0300 200 3507.

There are new helpline numbers for income tax and self assessment from 14 June, as follows:

  • Income Tax enquiries for individuals, pensioners and employees – 0300 200 3300;
  • Agent Dedicated Line – 0300 200 3311;
  • Tax back on bank and building society interest: Savings Helpline – 0300 200 3312;
  • The National Claims Office – 0300 200 3313;
  • Self Assessment textphone service – 0300 200 3319.

The old 0845 numbers will be available for approximately 18 months.

The provision of 0300 numbers is expected to result in significant cost savings for the majority of callers to the lines. Callers will only pay the same amount as a landline call to a 01 or a 02 number and the price is the same for calls from mobiles. 0300 numbers are generally included in any discount schemes or inclusive call minutes that claimants may already have with landline or mobile phone operators.

We hope that further announcements will be made in due course for the remaining HMRC helplines. LITRG will continue to push for an improvement in call answering times from HMRC. This is the best way to ensure that telephone costs are minimised .

(17-06-13)

Contact: Robin Williamson (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/ContactUs)