⚠️ We are working hard to ensure this guidance is up to date. However, you should bear in mind that things may change as the government respond to the ongoing situation.

Dealing with HMRC during the coronavirus outbreak

Updated on 21 October 2020

It may be harder than usual to contact HMRC during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Below, we outline the different channels available for getting in touch with them.

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(c) Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

COVID 19 helpline and webchat

HMRC's helpline number to support businesses and self-employed people impacted by the coronavirus is 0800 024 1222 and is open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

Advisers on this helpline can only take calls from people in financial distress, with outstanding tax liabilities, who would like to try to arrange a Time to Pay arrangement.

⚠️ Note: The number has changed from when the line was originally launched to ensure extra capacity on the telephone network and help people to get through more quickly. We understand that calls to the original helpline number will be redirected, but please avoid using any old number you have seen and instead use the new number 0800 024 1222 as above. 

Dedicated HMRC webchat advisers can talk to you about problems paying your taxes due to the coronavirus. This could be:

  • Self Assessment
  • VAT
  • Employers’ PAYE
  • Corporation Tax

They will not be able to transfer you to another webchat team. Speak to an adviser.

Other telephone lines

HMRC's other telephone lines are currently operating on reduced hours of 8am until 4pm, Monday to Friday, while they cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

HMRC have reallocated usual helpline staff to the dedicated coronavirus helpline (0800 024 1222).

Also, some staff are unable to work because they are ill or following self-isolating rules, for example. If you do need to contact the usual helplines, HMRC say they are less busy before 10am.

Most of them use voice recognition software – you can find some hints and tips on using it on our website.

If your call is not urgent, please use another method to contact HMRC, for example webchat, or via the customer forums or by using your Personal Tax Account

For more information about the methods of contacting HMRC over the different areas of tax, visit GOV.UK.

Writing to HMRC

You should avoid using the post to write to HMRC, as there may currently be delays in them receiving or posting letters.

If important information or documents reach HMRC late as a result of the coronavirus disruption, then you should be aware that in general where events are beyond your control, the defence of 'reasonable excuse' may be available to protect you against resulting penalties. Due to the exceptional situation at present, it might be that HMRC would also consider applying a ‘special reduction’ in respect of potential penalties.

Therefore, if you do have to post anything to HMRC, follow our guidance carefully – particularly as regards keeping a copy of what you have sent to HMRC and when you send it. Due to observing social distancing measures, you might not wish to go to the Post Office for a proof of postage at this time; however, you could keep some other record such as taking a digital photograph of the stamped, addressed envelope – the file should be date and time stamped, which would provide some evidence of you having posted documents to HMRC.

How to record what you are told by HMRC  

There are lots of different ways of asking HMRC questions – in customer forums, via Twitter, in live webinars, on webchat and so on.

Just as it is important ALWAYS to write down the details of a phone call with HMRC, you should keep a copy of what HMRC tell you in response to your question in case you need to later rely on it.

You could take a screenshot if necessary – ‘Prt Sc’ (Print Screen) allows you to take a picture of your full screen and then paste it into a Word document for your records. In terms of taking a print screen on your mobile, this will vary depending on the type of phone that you have. You could try pressing the power and volume-down buttons at the same time, or if you have an iPhone or your device has a home button, try the power and home buttons together. You should then be able to access the screenshot from your photo gallery.

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