HMRC Pause Unpopular Decision To Close Of Self-Assessment Helpline & Reduce PAYE & VAT Helplines

What a whirlwind 24 hours for HMRC! We take a look at the original announcement and the decision to pause and re think just 24 hours later.

What HMRC Said First

HMRC announced yesterday (19th March, 2024) that it would close its self-assessment phone line between April and September EVERY YEAR following a successful trial last year. They said they were encouraging callers to use their online services instead.

The helpline would re-open between October and March each year for priority queries with queries that could be easily resolved directed to their online services.

In addition to this, the VAT helpline would only be open for 5 days every month leading up to the VAT return deadline, with queries outside this directed to online services. This would be a big change from the current service which is open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.

And the PAYE helpline wouldn’t take calls from customer regarding refunds and would instead be told to use online services.

HMRC continued that they would have advisers available for customer who were unable or could not access the online services.

HMRC Reasoning

HMRC claimed this was a vital element in modernising the tax system which would allow more customers to ‘self-serve’ and access information needed quicker and easier. They went on to say they were ‘maximising every pound of taxpayers’ money’.

They pointed out that they have their You Tube videos and digital assistant that can help with a lot of queries.

They continued that last year they received more than 3 million calls where the answer could have been found online – these queries included:

  • Resetting online password

  • Getting your tax code

  • Finding their National Insurance number

HMRC stated that this means there were 500 people working full time to answer just those sort of queries that could have been resolved using the online self-serve options.


There was an outcry from customers, bookkeepers, accountants and industry bodies alike with one professional body saying they were ‘dismayed’ at the changes.

HMRC have, this morning (20th March, 2024) halted this plan following feedback from ‘concerned stakeholders’, it said they will now ‘engage with stakeholders about how to ensure all taxpayers’ needs – including small businesses – are met as HMRC shifts more people to online self-service in the longer term.’

They will still encourage customers to use self-serve where possible and pointed out this option is available 24/7.

The Future

Whilst the changes to the phone line have been halted, HMRC are still pushing for customers to use self-serve and over the coming months and years there will be a move to encourage customers to communicate more and more online with HMRC. We welcome changes leading to a reduction in call waiting times, we already do everything we can online because it is so much quicker than calling but there are times when this is not possible. For example, a new client we take on having a deadline coming up where we need information specific to the business that the owner doesn't know or have.

The digital assistant does not have the experience or knowledge to fully consider the implications to deliver an accurate response. Ultimately, their online self-serve is not up to all of the job yet.

However, we are! With over 15 years in the industry and experience with a wide range of different businesses, we are lucky enough to keep calls to HMRC to a minimum. And if your business does need information from HMRC, we will do the calling so you don't have long waits on the phone where you could be managing your business instead.

Using a professional bookkeeper such as Cashtrak, we are often able to resolve HMRC queries ourselves, we are lot more accessible and we will never tell you that you can't call us! We use multiple forms of communication which is dependent or what our customers want.

  • Call us

  • Email us

  • Whats App us

  • Check our online help articles

  • Text us

  • Message us through social media

  • Want to contact us another way - no problem, just let us know!

Using Cashtrak is a stress free way of avoiding any unnecessary delays caused by HMRCs changes to helplines whilst also potentially saving you money and definitely saving your time.

Contact us today for a no obligation chat.


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