Skip to main content
Published on 7 December 2023

HMRC’s digital shift needs taxpayer buy-in

Press release

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has responded to the news1 that between 11 December and 31 January, HMRC’s self assessment helpline will focus only on ‘priority queries’, with other enquiries directed online.

Press release. A coloured image of a speakerphone, a paper press release and microphone.

Victoria Todd, head of LITRG, said:

“We do not disagree with HMRC’s ambition to have more people interact with them online, but we remain concerned that measures like this, and the temporary closure of the self assessment phone line this summer, are hindering, not helping, taxpayers.

“HMRC believe that many people contacting them via the telephone are doing so unnecessarily and that their issues can be dealt with quickly and easily online. If that is the case, we would like to see the evidence that supports this claim.

“The changes HMRC have announced over the past year have made it clear that people are being forced, rather than encouraged, to resolve certain issues digitally.

 “It is our view that if digital services are good, then people will use them, but we are concerned that some of HMRC’s online services, including guidance, are not yet to the standard needed to properly support taxpayers and provide a good digital experience.

“Forcing taxpayers to use services that are not up to scratch risks an erosion of trust in the tax system, leading to errors, non-compliance and more problems for taxpayers and HMRC further down the line.

“HMRC also needs to be mindful that not everyone can interact with them digitally, either because they don’t have online access or because personal circumstances like a health condition mean they need extra support. HMRC needs to ensure they do not inadvertently make it more difficult for these taxpayers to meet their obligations.

“In the short term, measures like this will result in a reduced demand on HMRC’s resources, but we have some concerns that the impact on taxpayers and the potential longer term impacts on the tax system have not been fully understood or evaluated.

“It is important that HMRC are clear about whether these changes are working for taxpayers, giving them the support they need to meet their tax obligations and not just yielding short-term benefits for HMRC.”

Notes for editors

  1. Self Assessment helpline to focus on priority queries (HMRC, 7 December 2023) 
Back to top