Agent dedicated line ended?

HMRC now say that the agent line is still only for complex queries.

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I called HMRC on the agent line today, only to be told that from today the line is only for complex quiries to free up the lines as in January. We should advise our clients to sign up for a Goverment Gateway account to access any of the information that we require for codes, PAYE income, pensions etc, luckily my software from Q/B has a tab for HMRC data which gives me most of the info I require. My call was about removing a client from self assessment for the 21/22 year and to close down the record. I asked how I should do this in the future? she replied that I would still have to call to do that, thats hardley a complex tax quirey! I was told that in the future we would have to call the normal public number to ask anything else. The wait times are the same either way. So, there we have it, the Agent priority line seems to be officially dead! Has anyone else had this response since the 24th February?

Replies (27)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
24th Feb 2023 11:04

Others have posted similar.

Quite frankly i don't see what they are playing at it just chews up more time for them and us.

The whole point of the agent line was (a) quick in, and (b) speak to someone who has been there all week, and might have more of a clue that the public line who seem to often sit on their elbows.

Given neither of those points seem to still apply its fairly pointless.

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By K81
24th Feb 2023 11:07

if this is the case then it is a very poor decision from HMRC. Agents hardly phone on a whim!

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Replying to K81:
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By GARRY GREEN
24th Feb 2023 11:22

Yes, that's right. I don't call them unless I have exhausted all other avenues. Frankly HMRC have lost the plot when it comes to getting things done at the moment. I am still waiting for a response to a simple over repayment claim from an earlier year. The letter was sent in August 22 and there current response time is July 23!! How is it possible for us to actually achieve anything with HMRC!

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Replying to GARRY GREEN:
By K81
24th Feb 2023 11:55

i sent an overpayment relief claim in February 2022 which was dealt with in January 2023. eleven month turn around, great service.

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Replying to GARRY GREEN:
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By Joe Soap
28th Feb 2023 09:38

and me!
I sent 4 repayment claims for minor beneficiaries of a trust - all in the same envelope. I chased by letter and 2 were paid, I chased agan by letter and a third one was paid. I have chased again by letter and on the phone and I am still waiting.
The outstanding one ie £185 or so!

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By Duggimon
24th Feb 2023 11:34

I phoned them today and nothing was said about it. Issue was looking for clarification on a tax debt that I disagree with.

There might have been something about it in the automated message which I ignored though.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By kevinringer
28th Feb 2023 10:22

I spoke to the ADL numerous times during January and February and HMRC didn't mention 'complex' at any point, or refuse to deal with me. Maybe I was just lucky.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
24th Feb 2023 11:34

Just to add to this, HMRC need to spell out very clearly what is and what is not "complex"

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Not Anonymous
24th Feb 2023 11:40

Isn't it simply as each day passes and those with experience resign/retire a greater % becomes complex as the newer staff don't appear to know much about tax.

In reality I suspect we're now close to 100% complex!

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Yossarian
24th Feb 2023 12:55

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

Just to add to this, HMRC need to spell out very clearly what is and what is not "complex"

My argument is that by definition everything I call them about is 'complex', because if there was an easier method of dealing with the particular issue I would have already used it! Its not as if we phone them to chat about the weather or last nights Coronation Street. Its all very well them suggesting that the client uses their Personal Tax account, but to some clients that's on a par with performing brain surgery. Its what they pay us for after all.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Morph
By kevinringer
28th Feb 2023 10:16

I believe HMRC consider a matter 'complex' if it is something the client cannot self-serve online, on the assumption the client has enough digital competency to access their PTA. The word 'complex' is a misnomer because most of my clients are digitally excluded/challenged and would find anything to do with the PTA complex.

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Replying to kevinringer:
Morph
By kevinringer
28th Feb 2023 10:23

If only HMRC would give us access to the PTA: it would save time for us and HMRC.

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By SteveHa
24th Feb 2023 12:01

In other news, I emailed BT&C Stamp Taxes to arrange a call for three clients. Call was arranged via Teams for the next morning (yesterday), and after a 15 minute call, all three clients sorted. Quick, professional and productive.

Meanwhile, I attempted to arrange a similar call to BAI clearance, who refused point blank. A complete waste of time.

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By codling
24th Feb 2023 12:43

Richard Hattersley's article says that the agents line is back to normal so, like others who have posted on this, is it a case of the caller not knowing and still reading from the January script. I have not been able to trace any official notice to say that it is now for complex queries only going forward.

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Replying to codling:
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By GARRY GREEN
24th Feb 2023 13:12

No, it's not that, the first thing the operator asked was "what was my call about"? she then went on to say that they will only deal with complex enquires from now on as the instructions to them had changed. I said that I only thought this was for January and her reply was "they have now extended it" Maybe not all operators are putting it into practice yet. As for being back to normal, I recall being normal pre COVID when the phones would be answered in under 2 minutes not 45.

HMRC CIS helpline are now also saying that if they have sent out CIS deduction information once for a client we will have to write in if we need the information again. This they said, was because a number of large companies were just ringing in automatically to get this information on a regular basis,as a matter of course without trying other avenues first. She said that it would probably change again though as it does on a regular basis, they don't know where they are with it all.
Every year it gets more and more difficult to interact with HMRC

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Replying to GARRY GREEN:
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By codling
24th Feb 2023 15:10

That seems quite categoric but wouldn't it be nice if we were told. It is an absolute disgrace. Like most others, I only phone the helpline when I cannot solve the problem any other way. Writing is a waste of time given the length of time HMRC takes to respond. Spent a long time on the phone yesterday getting through to CIS helpline to have a late filing penalty cancelled. It was late due to not having received agent authorisation on taking on a new client, in time for filing. A written appeal was made in the interim. A nil return was filed as soon as authorisation up and running, which, according to CISOF, should have led to the penalty being cancelled automatically but it was not. Debt management became involved and despite phoning and explaining, this supposed debt was farmed out to a debt collection agency hence my having to call.
At least I spoke with someone sensible and although my appeal of 4 months previous had not yet surfaced she cancelled the penalty there and then. The whole sorry episode cost me about 3 hours of my life I will never get back and this seems now to be the norm and I am heartily sick of it and cannot wait to exit stage left next year.

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Replying to codling:
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By legerman
24th Feb 2023 15:21

codling wrote:

That seems quite categoric but wouldn't it be nice if we were told. It is an absolute disgrace. Like most others, I only phone the helpline when I cannot solve the problem any other way. Writing is a waste of time given the length of time HMRC takes to respond. Spent a long time on the phone yesterday getting through to CIS helpline to have a late filing penalty cancelled. It was late due to not having received agent authorisation on taking on a new client, in time for filing. A written appeal was made in the interim. A nil return was filed as soon as authorisation up and running, which, according to CISOF, should have led to the penalty being cancelled automatically but it was not. Debt management became involved and despite phoning and explaining, this supposed debt was farmed out to a debt collection agency hence my having to call.
At least I spoke with someone sensible and although my appeal of 4 months previous had not yet surfaced she cancelled the penalty there and then. The whole sorry episode cost me about 3 hours of my life I will never get back and this seems now to be the norm and I am heartily sick of it and cannot wait to exit stage left next year.

In case you're not aware, you can appeal a penalty through your agent gg. Go to construction industry and click on the client and its on the right hand side. If a penalty has been issued, filing a nil return doesn't cancel it as far as I'm aware, but if you appeal using the file nil return drop down, it is cancelled without question.

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Replying to legerman:
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By codling
24th Feb 2023 16:56

Thanks Legerman.
I was aware of this and normally I would go this way but I was not the registered agent at that point hence the letter to keep the matter live pending authorisation.

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Replying to GARRY GREEN:
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By legerman
24th Feb 2023 15:26

GARRY GREEN wrote:

No, it's not that, the first thing the operator asked was "what was my call about"? she then went on to say that they will only deal with complex enquires from now on as the instructions to them had changed. I said that I only thought this was for January and her reply was "they have now extended it" Maybe not all operators are putting it into practice yet. As for being back to normal, I recall being normal pre COVID when the phones would be answered in under 2 minutes not 45.

I suspect she is wrong, or has simply said it because she didn't want to handle a complex query. If this was official then it would have been published. I have to phone them myself on Monday to remove a client from SA, so I'll see how I get on.

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By lordofsums
24th Feb 2023 15:07

Also had the same this week. 'Your client needs to log into their gateway' blah blah. My client doesn't even have a mobile phone, let alone internet or a computer. Advisor was a little rude, and just wanted me to go away.

It's a nightmare dealing with HMRC on all aspects now. The simplest of things that could be dealt with on the phone sit on the lists to do for wayyyy too long

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By kelvindavies
24th Feb 2023 17:16

Next time, take down their name and contact centre, and then drop a post in the HMRC community agent forum to advise that this person at xyz contact centre have advised that it's been extended.

Time to call out the advisors who are ignorant of changes/simply cannot be bothered to deal with queries.

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Replying to kelvindavies:
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By Hugo Fair
24th Feb 2023 18:58

You honestly think that any of them will divulge their full name (or indeed anything that could identify them)?

Whenever I've enquired (calmly despite the gritted teeth), the response quickly moves from "we're not allowed to give out personal details" to "we do not tolerate abuse ..." - and the fog (or at least the phone) descends!

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By DonDan
27th Feb 2023 11:02

There has been the following answer from HMRC on this via their Agent forum:
"From the start of business on Wednesday 1 February, ADL reverted to the service provided ahead of the Self-Assessment peak.

This means they will once again answer calls from agents about PAYE and SA.

Agents are advised to seek guidance online in the first instance but if further information or progress chasing is required, they are able to direct all queries to the ADL."

It's pretty clear that it's a lottery as to who answers the phone but they should have reverted to pre-January service

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Replying to DonDan:
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By GARRY GREEN
01st Mar 2023 12:22

Update on my post, I spoke again to a lady on the ADL and she said my previous experience should not have happened as the agent line is back to normal after January. She was surprised I was told that and said she would speak to her manager and ask for an internal email to be sent out to make sure that misinformation on this topic is not given out again. Good for her to have taken some positive action!

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By snickersinatwix
27th Feb 2023 13:46

I had this the other day and posted a similar thing. I doubt it will make much difference, but going forward I am going to say I will answer their little survey after each call and tell them exactly what I think of the person I spoke to (including the lovely ones). Going to try to get their names at the start of the call too.............

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By Paul D Utherone
27th Feb 2023 16:55

From the HMRC/Agent Forum recently...
"From the start of business on Wednesday 1 February, ADL reverted to the service provided ahead of the Self-Assessment peak.

This means they will once again answer calls from agents about PAYE and SA.

Agents are advised to seek guidance online in the first instance but if further information or progress chasing is required, they are able to direct all queries to the ADL.

This thread is now locked."

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By tedbuck
28th Feb 2023 10:24

I have said this before but my neighbour's son's girl friend applied for a job with HMRC.
No experience of tax
Telephone interview
Work from home (so presumably no training to speak of)
Computer supplied to her

So what sort of service should we expect?

Not her fault but the useless people they presumably call 'managers'. No-one in the real world could possibly survive on that basis.

HMRC RIP

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