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Can You Live Chat with HMRC – How to talk to HMRC

can you live chat with HMRC

Individuals and businesses need to manage their tax affairs and that quite often means communicating with His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) directly.

Wondering if you can chat live with HMRC? At the moment HMRC doesn’t offer a live chat option for general customer enquiries, but it is available as a support tool for PAYE, self-assessment, employers, VAT and child benefits. No other tax issues can be discussed via this method.

Whether you’re filling out an annual tax return, have noticed an error on your tax code, need help reclaiming overpaid tax, or have any other tax-related query, then you may need to get in touch with the team.

With live chat not always available, let’s look at the other ways that you can talk to the team at HMRC.

Popular Ways To Get In Touch With HMRC

HMRC operates several public helplines covering different tax query topics. Calling the appropriate line gets you through to an advisor who can assist you and provide guidance on the topic that you need help with.

Popular helplines include:

Individuals Line – For personal taxpayers with general tax enquiries relating to income tax, capital gains, inheritance tax, child benefits and tax credit issues.

Open 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday. Friday deadline for electronic payments. Responses within 7 days.

Self Assessment Helpline – Assisting with specific self-assessment queries on statements, bills and payments including through self-employment. Can also reset user credentials for accessing online government gateway.

Open 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 2 pm Saturday.

Employers Line – Available 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday for businesses with payroll and PAYE enquiries. Covers corrections, late/ lost returns, employment allowance and real-time information issues.

Expect to wait up to 7 minutes for connection. 72 hours max response time.

VAT Helpline – VAT-registered traders can call with queries on applying for VAT, understanding rates and thresholds, amending VAT details, discussing assessments and negotiating time to pay arrangements.

The VAT helpline open 9am to 5 pm Monday to Thursday. 10-15 minute waiting times usually.

Response times vary dramatically across helplines depending on staff levels and how many people are trying to get through. Try calling earlier in the opening window for the best chance of speeding up your wait time.

Try to have relevant paperwork ready in front of you so that you can provide information to the advisor that you get through so that they can help you more efficiently. For example, always have your tax code available and your unique taxpayer reference number if you know it.

Contact Details For Key HMRC Services

TopicOnlinePhone
Self AssessmentAsk HMRC’s digital assistant, check personal tax account or HMRC app, watch videos, join webinarsFor Self Assessment advice and issues; 0300 200 3310
Tax CreditsManage tax credits and report changes online, check personal tax account or HMRC appReport changes, general enquiries, check qualification for tax credits (0300 300 3900, +44 2890 538 192)
Child BenefitAsk HMRC’s digital assistant, check your personal tax account or the HMRC appInformation about eligibility, claims, and changes (0300 200 3100, +44 161 210 3086)
Income TaxAsk HMRC’s digital assistant, check tax code and income details online, check personal tax account or HMRC appFor tax codes, tax over/underpayments, marriage allowance, tax on savings, general ISA enquiries (0300 200 3300, +44 135 535 9022)
National InsuranceAsk HMRC’s digital assistant, find the National Insurance number, check your National Insurance record, and apply for a number onlineFor National Insurance rates, thresholds, registration, statutory payments, contribution gaps (0300 200 3500, +44 191 203 7010)

For any other services, you can find the relevant contact details on this page of HMRC’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact

HMRC also operates a Twitter account and various postal addresses. Neither is recommended for urgent issues.

For the most accurate and current contact details, you should refer to HMRC’s website or any correspondence that they have sent to you. https://www.gov.uk/contact-hmrc

Webchat Services Available

HMRC also provides live web chat interaction opportunities with advisors. Via the website, taxpayers can initiate text message-style conversations around frequently handled tax situations.

This lets queries get addressed or be escalated for specialist decisions if complex.

Webchats are accessible for:

  • Self-assessment
  • Making voluntary payments
  • VAT refunds claims
  • Progress chasing overpayments

To start a webchat:

  1. Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/webchat
  2. Select from the available categories
  3. Answer a set of quick screening questions so your enquiry gets routed appropriately
  4. Join the queue where wait times and volumes display
  5. Communicate via the web chat portal once connected

Webchat services are available 8 am-8 pm Monday to Friday with advisors typically responding in 15 minutes during operating windows depending on demand.

Conversations auto-save for reference allowing picking up unresolved matters later.

Sending Messages to HMRC

For more detailed discussions not suited to web chat windows, taxpayers registered for HMRC online accounts can send direct secure messages with attachments which will receive an email-style response in due course.

This works for chasing updates on open cases, more descriptive or complicated queries and submitting supporting materials confidentially.

To message HMRC through your personal tax account/business tax account:

  1. Login using Government Gateway credentials
  2. Navigate to “Messages” or “Contact” in the top menu
  3. Select the appropriate message category to initiate an enquiry
  4. Upload files if supplementary paperwork required
  5. Send messages and monitor inbox folder for replies

While less instant than webchat, these messages do let you cover a wide range of issues specific to your needs without having to wait in the phone queue. Messages typically see responses within 3-5 days but patience is advised for busier periods, particularly nearer tax reporting deadlines.

Why Isn’t Live Chat Freely Available Across the HMRC site?

Whilst we’re fairly used to having live chat options for online shopping and other professional services, it isn’t widely used for HMRC yet. Here are some of the main reasons why live chat functionality is not freely available across all areas of the HMRC website:

Cost and Resourcing

Operating free-form live chat systems that allow website visitors to open dialogue with advisors in real time requires extensive investment in background infrastructure and frontline staff.

With budgets across UK public sector bodies continually squeezed over recent years, the costs for HMRC providing unlimited live chat availability across all tax situations remain prohibitively high currently.

Prioritisation of High-Volume Queries

The web chat functionality that is currently available gets strategically deployed only around the most high-volume tax themes like self-assessment, VAT registrations and payments. This is to help maximise help where it’s needed most – a good option for when unlimited resources are not available.

Less common or technical tax questions will always require referral to specialist offline teams, which wouldn’t be available via live chat.

Data Protection Concerns

Chat interfaces facilitate the transfer of highly sensitive information. Given the security risk this could cause, particularly given the highly confidential nature of most tax enquiries, heightened data protection risks are at play. Without the ability to offer secure logged-in online account messaging or phone discussions, visitors’ details could get exposed to hackers or data-identified fraudsters when talking openly through public site chat windows.

Careful identity verification is needed to operate secure live chats but this process creates additional administration time for end users and chat operatives. In many cases, this outweighs the benefits and would therefore be easier to utilise the helplines.

Preventing Misinformation Spread

With tax rules constantly evolving across incomes, pensions, benefits and more, HMRC minimises unstructured live chat opportunities to prevent well-meaning but inaccurate guidance becoming informally shared at scale.

Ways To Speed Up Communications: Authorising Professional Tax Agents

It can sometimes feel like a full-time job trying to get through to the right person to help you with your tax affairs but there is a handy way to bypass endless hours spent on hold.

You can authorise a professional tax agent to discuss your account on your behalf. This must be an individual such as a registered accountant or tax expert.

To authorise a representative to talk to HMRC on your behalf:

  • Download form 64-8 from gov. uk – this is the official HMRC authority form.
  • Complete the taxpayer section with your details. This includes your tax reference number, name and address and national insurance number so that HMRC can verify your identity.
  • Fill out the details of the person that you are authorising to talk to HMRC on your behalf. You will need their full name and contact information.
  • Specify how much authority you are giving this person. You can choose to limit discussions to 5 tax years or more if needed.
  • Sign and date the form to make it legally binding under the Taxes Management Act 1970.
  • The completed form can then be emailed or posted to HMRC – the details to use are included on the form.
  • You will then receive confirmation from HMRC once they have received this and updated their systems.

Taking this route can be beneficial in several ways – you get your tax needs dealt with by a professional who understands the subject matter and can talk to HMRC effectively, as well as removing the need to talk to HMRC yourself which can take up a lot of time if your needs are complex.

Accredited practitioners have a more direct line to HMRC and can interpret guidance accurately when handling investigations or objections over payments due. They can be invaluable when challenging repayments requested or chasing owed tax rebates utilising their established relationships and channels.

Understanding HMRC Helplines and Local Face-to-Face Support

As you can see from the contact information shared above, HMRC operates dozens of public helplines tackling a broad array of tax issues.

It is fairly easy to find the right contact information for common queries like PAYE or tax credits, but if you have a more niche support requirement you may be unsure which number or contact route to use to get the help that you need.

– General queries on updating company details are best directed to 0300 200 3200

– Disputing a VAT penalty letter would suit the VAT helpline on 0300 200 3700

– PAYE payroll reconciliation issues are handled on weekdays on 0300 200 3200

– Confirming dividend tax credit amounts would need the Incomes Helpline 0300 200 3300

If you’re unsure where your query sits, a good place to start is to call HMRC’s umbrella Individuals Helpline on 0300 200 1900. The advisors here will be able to route your call accordingly if they cannot help.

There is also an option to book face-to-face appointments to discuss issues such as relationship separations affecting allowances and pension-sharing orders. These can only be pre-booked appointments at local HMRC Enquiry Centres.

To find your nearest centre visit: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/shortforms/form/ENQ1.

Be Wary of HMRC Scam Communications

Sadly criminals have been known to exploit taxpayer communications with scams designed to capture sensitive information.

HMRC-themed scams typically start with victims receiving highly convincing letters, texts, calls or emails impersonating legitimate tax office numbers or logos demanding urgent settlement of fabricated unpaid taxes or fines. The threats make recipients believe that if they fail to make quick payment of the sums requested they will face legal action.

These cruel intimidation tactics are designed to create anxiety for those who receive these communications to force them into taking quick action they may otherwise not have taken when in sound mind.

HMRC will never send you communications by text email or letter requesting immediate payment for anything without formal warnings being sent first. The best course of action to take to protect yourself is to always check the validity of communications received before taking any action.

Use the contact numbers listed on HMRC’s website to get in touch and check if the communication you have received is legitimate or if you have any doubts. A true caller will not be offended if you hang up a call to check their authenticity so never feel pressured to stay on the phone line if you suspect something is wrong.

Finally,

In summary, live chat, whilst useful, is only selectively deployed by HMRC at present. Instead, it offers a library of free guidance documents to aid people in understanding tax. It offers telephone helplines for most areas of tax and can also be reached by Twitter and Post. Due to the sensitive nature of most tax-related queries, this balance of communication options aims to offer data protection, prevent misinformation from being shared, and provide convenience to its users.

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