HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has said it will pilot a new “seasonal model” for the self-assessment helpline, to help free up its phone lines to help people with urgent queries.
For three months from June 12, HMRC will trial directing self-assessment queries from the helpline to the department’s digital services, including its online guidance, digital assistant and webchat.
It said this will help to free up advisers to take urgent calls on other lines and answer customer correspondence.
The vast majority of self-assessment customers use HMRC’s online services, with 97% filing online, the revenue body said.
The helpline will reopen on September 4, it said, so people can receive expert support in the five months running up to the self-assessment deadline on January 31 2024.
HMRC said the self-assessment helpline receives far fewer calls over the summer, with calls around 50% higher between January and April compared with June to August.
Concerns have previously been raised about people struggling to get through to HMRC when phone lines are busy.
Angela MacDonald, deputy chief executive and second permanent secretary at HMRC, said: “We continually review our services to see how they can best serve the public and we are taking steps to improve them.
“A seasonal SA (self-assessment) helpline will make more of our expert advisers available where they are most needed during the summer months.
“Our online services, including the HMRC app, are quick and easy to use and have been significantly improved. I urge customers to explore these fully before deciding to wait to speak to us on the phone.”