Getting Help

Updated on 22 December 2017

Unfortunately, we are not able to provide an advice service about tax or tax credit issues.

There is, however, a range of information and guidance in our tax guides section and we also have a dedicated website and email help service for disabled people who take on a personal assistant to help them live independently. You can find out more about this on our Disability and Tax website.

We aim to respond to all enquiries sent via our Contact Us page as soon as we can. Our limited resources however, mean that we cannot always promise how quickly we will do this or whether we will be able to give a full response. If your enquiry is urgent, we suggest that you contact a tax adviser, a welfare rights adviser or one of the tax charities listed later in this guide.  

Please note that we are a charity and not part of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Government department who deal with tax and tax credits. Although we do engage closely with HMRC and other Government departments, we are unable to access tax or tax credit records, make changes to information or pass on reported changes to HMRC.

Getting help with tax and tax credits
Using the GOV.UK website
Contacting HMRC by telephone
Getting help from HMRC online
Contacting HMRC by letter or form
People who need extra help
Contacting your Local Authority for Council Tax help
Other non-governmental help and advice
Paid help

Getting help with tax and tax credits

There are different ways to get official guidance or information to help you understand your tax or tax credits.

Using government websites

You may find the information you are looking for on the GOV.UK website.

 If you live in Scotland, you may also find the Scottish Government’s website helpful.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you may find NI direct helpful.

If you use any of these websites as a source of information, we recommend that you print out a copy of the relevant webpage and keep it somewhere safe, in case of a later dispute. This is particularly important if you are using GOV.UK as it is being constantly updated and amended as new material is added and existing material is re-written.

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Using the GOV.UK website

The information on GOV.UK has replaced all tax information on the old HMRC website. The material on GOV.UK is intended to be simple and clear and therefore it may not provide the same detailed information that the HMRC site previously provided. LITRG produce a range of information and guidance on tax issues – you can find this in the tax guides section.

If you live in Scotland, you may also find the Scottish Government’s website helpful. If you live in Northern Ireland, you may find NI direct helpful.

If you use any of these websites as a source of information, we recommend that you print out a copy of the relevant webpage and keep it somewhere safe, in case of a later dispute. This is particularly important if you are using the GOV.UK website as it is constantly updated and amended as new material is added and existing material is re-written. We look at what to do if you have relied on some GOV.UK information that is later changed or removed in our news piece ‘Has GOV.UK gone wrong for you?

As GOV.UK is the website for all government services, there is a lot of information on it – hopefully the tax information you need will be clearly signposted from the HMRC part of GOV.UK but if not, there is a search facility which may help you find the information you are looking for. Try to be as specific as you can, for example if you know the tax refund form you need is called ‘P87’, search for the form number, rather than ‘tax refunds’. To narrow down the results, you can filter them by government organisation.

Always try to use GOV.UK to search for government information or services rather than use a search engine. This is because results from generic search engines will often bring up unofficial as well as official websites. This can include copycat websites that charge for services that the government offers for free.

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Contacting HMRC by telephone

HMRC helpline numbers are listed on GOV.UK. Most have a speech recognition system in place that interprets what you say in order to channel you to the appropriate help. Before they can deal with your enquiry, either the speech recognition system or an adviser will carry out a security check to confirm you are who you say you are.

Before phoning, we recommend that you:

  • Check with your service provider how much your call will cost – the majority of HMRC helplines are 0300 or 0345 numbers.
    Be aware of any HMRC phone numbers that do not start with 0300 or 0345 – these could belong to expensive call forwarding services as described in LITRG’s news article 'Misleading HMRC phone number – are you due a refund?'
  • Think about a few words that best describe your question or query. This will help ensure you get through the speech recognition system and to the right person as quickly as possible.  Have an alternative just in case the system does not pick up your first attempt. For example, ‘SMP’ or ‘Maternity pay’ is sufficient. There is no need to say, ‘I am calling to query my entitlement to statutory maternity pay’.
  • Have your National Insurance number, postcode and other key information you may need such as your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number if you are in Self Assessment, ready for the security check.
  • Have a pen and paper ready to make a note of the date and time of your call and important details such as what you need to do and by when and what HMRC have said they will do and when they will do it by. You may be offered a web address to jot down where you will find general guidance relating to your query. We know that people find this stage particularly annoying, particularly if they have already tried to look online, but there is no way to skip this stage.

During the call:

  • Try to call when there is not too much background noise. Calling from a busy train station or when the television is on for example, could distort the information heard by the speech recognition system

  • Talk at a steady natural pace, do not rush, shout or speak too slowly. The system has been widely tested on all regional accents so there should not be any need to change the way you normally speak. However, if English is not your first language or you have trouble making yourself understood for another reason, you may find HMRC’s information for those with additional needs helpful.

  • To give dates, clearly say the date, month and year. For example, ‘twenty first July nineteen eighty nine’ or ‘Fourteen zero nine nineteen sixty seven’. Similarly, to say amounts, speak clearly and normally. For example ‘twenty-five pounds and thirty pence’.

  • The system will recognise common abbreviations and acronyms. For 'PAYE' both 'p a y e' and 'Pay as you Earn' will be recognised. If your call concerns an actual form then you can name it – P2, P800, SA302 – as the system should recognise these also.

  • The system will offer confirmation of what you have said. It will 'ask again' if it is unsure or needs further clarification. If the system is still struggling to pick up what you are saying, it will revert to a push button menu for ease, for example press 1 for self-assessment, 2 for refunds and so on. The system should always offer you a ‘something else’ option, if none of the preceding categories are appropriate.

  • Depending on the nature of your query, you may also be asked some security questions by the system to verify your identity. This should mean you do not have to do it again when you get through to the adviser.

  • Always ask HMRC when you can expect a reply and make a note of it.
  • If you speak to an adviser take their name so that if there is a later dispute, you can say who you spoke to. HMRC record most calls so they can be traced back if necessary.

After your call:

Keep notes of any phone calls along with important documents relating to your tax and tax credits. 

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Getting help from HMRC online

HMRC offer a range of digital services for those who want to deal with their tax or tax credits online. These allow you to carry out transactions online such as file your Self Assessment tax return or, if you are an employer, manage your PAYE scheme.

You can get online support from HMRC to help you use these services, including via webchat or a virtual assistant.

You can find out more about this in our Digital Services guide.

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Contacting HMRC by letter or form

It is likely to take longer to resolve your enquiry or question if you write to HMRC rather than seek help on the phone or online. If however, you decide to do this, we recommend that you always:

  • Take a copy of any correspondence you send to HMRC and keep it safe for future reference.
  • Though it may cost more, consider using a ‘signed-for’ postal service to ensure safe delivery, especially if there is a deadline to meet or the contents are urgent.  You can ask for a free proof of postage from the Post Office but this only proves that you have posted something – it does not prove that HMRC have received or signed for it.
  • Ask HMRC when you can expect a reply.
  • Make sure you know about any key dates or deadlines that you may still have to adhere to while your enquiry is ongoing.

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People who need extra help

HMRC do not have any offices open to the public. Help and information from HMRC is available over the phone, through GOV.UK, online or by writing to them.

HMRC offer a number of services for people with additional needs, including text and relay phone lines for people with impaired hearing or speech, alternative formats for the blind or partially sighted and interpreters for those who do not have English as their first language.

HMRC also have a mobile advisory service that could include a face-to-face visit in your home or at a specified venue near your home.

If you need extra help, full details of services are available on GOV.UK.

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 table. You can find out more on the dedicated website

Extra help to use HMRC’s online services

If you need extra help to deal with your tax and tax credits online, you can ask for it from any HMRC helpline. Help available includes:    

  • Help to get access to a computer and the internet. HMRC may refer you to an organisation or charity that can help you get online.
  • Inputting information on your behalf, or helping you to do this yourself.
  • Arranging a face-to-face visit if you need one. 
  • A ‘Get help with this page’ function and access to virtual assistant or online webchat service from within your personal tax account.

You can also contact HMRC’s Online Services Helpdesk, who can provide help on the phone or via webchat, with:

  • problems logging into or registering for most HMRC systems
  • error messages you receive when using HMRC systems
  • using HMRC free software and tools
  • problems sending forms online.

You can find out more about HMRC’s digital services in our digital services guide.

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Contacting your Local Authority for Council Tax help

If you are having trouble paying your council tax, think you may be entitled to extra support, reliefs or reductions, or just need some advice you should contact your own council. Each council operates an entirely separate budget and funding process and will also have its own process for collecting council tax.

You may be able to apply for a discount, perhaps because you live alone or because you want to make a lump sum payment. You can also ask to pay in instalments. Each case is reviewed individually. You should ask the council to confirm any reduction, relief or special agreements you get in writing, in case you need it for future reference.

If you think you are going to struggle to pay your council tax, we recommend that you get in touch with them quickly as the consequences of missing payments can be severe. Failure to act can mean that the council might start enforcement action and bailiffs may visit you.

If you find it difficult to use the telephone or get to the council offices, you can ask somebody to visit you at home.

If you have a council tax debt and are also struggling to pay other bills and organisations, we recommend that you seek further debt advice. There are many charities and not for profit organisations who can help you and their advice is free and confidential.

You can also find more in our section on Council Tax and rates.

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Other non-governmental help and advice

Contacting charities for help

A number of charities offer help on a wide range of tax and tax credit issues. Some also specialise in supporting people who need help to deal with debt related problems. 

Charity Other contact details
help with tax debt, undeclared income and self-assessment returns for people with individual incomes under £20,000

0345 120 3779
Please see TaxAid’s website for further details of their helpline and what to prepare before you call.

Tax Help for Older People –
help on all tax issues for older people with household incomes under £20,000.

0845 601 3321

01308 488 066
Citizens Advice - England and Wales
for help on a range of issues, including tax credits, benefits and general debt.
Further information on contacting Citizens Advice can be found on their Contact page
Citizens Advice - Scotland
for help on a range of issues, including debt.
Further information on contacting Citizens Advice Scotland can be found on their Contact page.
Citizens Advice - Northern Ireland –
for help on a range of issues, including debt.
Further information on contacting Citizens Advice Northern Ireland can be found on their Contact page.
Advice NI –
If you live in Northern Ireland you can also contact Advice NI for help with on a range of issues, including debt. 
Advice NI have a special web page for those needing help with tax and benefits.


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Paid help

If you can afford to pay for help with your taxes, we suggest you consult a professional Chartered Tax Adviser. See the Chartered Institute of Taxation's website.

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