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HMRC helpline axe saga rumbles on as closure looms again

Newsletter issue – May 2024

The saga over whether HMRC will axe its tax helpline continues to rumble on, with the latest comments suggesting it may still close after all.

HMRC had to back down from a proposal that would see the Self-Assessment line closed from 8 April to 30 September, following widespread pressure and then the intervention of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

In the latest twist though, Jim Harra, HMRC's chief executive, has refused to rule out future helpline cuts. Speaking to The Treasury Select Committee in late April, he said the time-limited closure of the phone line had been trialled successfully last year and was part of the body's strategy.

Despite recently halting plans to cull it for half the year, Mr Harra told MPs: 'I am not saying we won't return to this.'

HMRC has started a consultation to look into the impact that shutting the helpline would cause for small businesses and taxpayers.

Rather than use the phone line, anyone seeking help from HMRC officials would be faced with using online services such as a chatbot instead.

Mr Harra said: 'Making best use of online services allows HMRC to help more taxpayers and get the most out of every pound of taxpayers' money by boosting productivity.'