HMRC call wait times

HMRC, News,

After ‘a successful trial period’, HMRC has decided to add a call wait time message to more of its helplines. The goal is to give taxpayers and agents a better idea of how long they can expect wait on the phone before getting through to an advisor. 

According to HMRC’s most recent stakeholder digest, the messages will allow callers to make an ‘informed choice about whether they want to hang on, use our digital services or call back another time’.

Previous callers to HMRC’s PAYE helpline may already have experienced the messaging, but they’ll now be added to the following services: 

  • Child benefit ​
  • Tax credits ​
  • VAT ​
  • Online services ​
  • National insurance​
  • Construction Industry Scheme​
  • Employers

Note that Corporation Tax doesn’t appear on the list, and with the Self Assessment helpline currently closed, that’s missing too. 

The driving force behind HMRC’s decision was the apparent success of introducing automated messaging into services such as the PAYE helpline, with a spokesperson noting that thanks to this addition, ‘wait times reduced from 40 minutes at the start of the trial, to consistently below 20 minutes’.

The spokesperson added: ‘We want to be open and transparent about how long our customers can expect to wait and encourage the use of our digital services which are quicker and easier than calling us.’

Meanwhile, HMRC is also showing the wait time for its web chat for Self Assessment. Taxpayers using this service see the message: ‘Thank you for your patience, your estimated wait time is…’ and then a timer counts down from that point. 

The extension comes after the announced closure of HMRC’s self assessment helpline over the summer and the transfer of 350 of its call handlers to other telephone services during the three-month closure. HMRC said that the decision was taken to divert resources and improve overall customer service levels. 

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