HMRC has emailed agents to explain that from 1 to 31 January 2023 the agent dedicated line (ADL) will only answer “complex” self assessment questions, but there is no explanation of what might be regarded as “complex”.
ICAEW’s Tax Faculty understands that the ADL will not be available for PAYE related queries, such as changes to tax codes, issues with P800 and P302 tax calculations, or requests for pay and tax details. HMRC is suggesting that agents use the income record viewer service, but the digital handshake requirement means that this does not always work as a solution. If an agent does need to phone HMRC with a PAYE query, they will need to phone the general helpline 0300 200 3300.
While HMRC has not explained what it means by “complex queries”, the Tax Faculty would still expect the ADL to assist with:
- withdrawing self assessment notices to file where there is no requirement to file;
- problems with the processing of returns;
- following up correspondence where the agent dashboard shows that a response should have been received;
- clients who are vulnerable and/or digitally excluded; and
- self assessment technical queries.
Caroline Miskin of ICAEW’s Tax Faculty says “The reduction in the service that HMRC is providing to agents is very disappointing, especially as the helpline opening hours have not yet been restored to pre-pandemic levels and a backlog of correspondence remains.
HMRC points to online self-serve options but often there is no online service available to agents, or the service is not suitable for all clients. Taxpayers expect their agent to be able to act on their behalf in all matters. This is enshrined in HMRC’s Charter but it does not appear to translate into reality.
HMRC appears to be struggling to provide an adequate level of service. We would, as always, prefer to work with HMRC to improve the tax system. The Tax Faculty’s Technical and Oversight committee is considering what further steps ICAEW should take.”
Finally, the Tax Faculty is aware of a letter that the agent compliance team has sent to some agents, urging them to ensure that clients’ self assessment returns are filed in time. The tone and content of the letter has concerned many members and the faculty has taken it up with HMRC.
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