HMRC helplines begin move to 03 numbers

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HMRC has moved several of its helplines from 0845 numbers to cheaper 03 numbers, with the full switch due to be complete by the end of summer.

The migration did not come soon enough, however, for the new tax year when the mass roll-out of real time information for PAYE started after HMRC's spring software upgrade.

Taxpayers and advisers attempting to file RTI returns for the first time swamped the tax department’s helplines. AccountingWEB’s Any Answers page saw a surge in queries and complaints about the Revenue’s phone lines, particularly on Monday 7 April, when HMRC staff staged a half-day strike. But the lengthy waits continued throughout the following week.

In many cases, callers reported they could not get through and were advised by recorded messages to ring back later. Other members raised concerns about...

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23rd Apr 2013 13:30

SAy No to 0845

The "overseas" number for the agent priority line is listed as 0161 931 9070.  Withhold your number using 141 before you dial or your call will be blocked.  

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to AnnaKournikovasKnickers
24th Apr 2013 15:13

Reasonably priced calls to HMRC

One way to get around this is to use SKYPE and dial the "overseas" number. This can't be blocked. Be prepared to be questioned about from where you are calling. If you admit to being in the UK they sometimes get upset. However I'm sure they will get over it! 

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By Ian017
to Roger.Thornton
21st Jul 2016 15:57

The new 03 number costs exactly the same as whatever you already pay for calls to 01 and 02 numbers.

That's the whole point.

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23rd Apr 2013 16:10

0845 numbers are free on my 02 package

0845 numbers are free on O2 phone

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23rd Apr 2013 18:16

Same here, Sarah

We use BT but they are free on our package, too.

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to Chris Mann
24th Apr 2013 09:11

This is not a good news story.

Hi Shirley 

This is a really annoying because 03 will now cost when the 0845 did not.   I smell a phone scam to make money from the HMRC 

I don,t think O3 is covered in the BT Package , it is not on the O2. Hope you are keeping well.


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to Matrix
24th Apr 2013 10:24

Good news, I think, Sarah

Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and must count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls.


From :

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By Ian017
to sarah douglas
21st Jul 2016 15:56

If you have a deal with inclusive calls it must cover calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers.

If you have inclusive calls to 0845 numbers (rare!) you will certainly have inclusive calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers.

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24th Apr 2013 10:14

Thanks, Sarah

I'm good,  thanks.

As I understand it, the 03 calls won't be as expensive as 0845 calls, which cost an absolute fortune for taxpayers, especially if calling from a mobile. I have had clients complain to me that some calls to HMRC have cost them £20-£30.

Are 03 call charges the same as 01 & 02 calls, ie. standard calls to landlines?

Thanks for researching the call packages, we will maybe get a little more information from somewhere.

I hope you are keeping well, too :)

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24th Apr 2013 11:19

What was free will now cost

I have free calls from by BT landline to 01, 02 and 0845 numbers. So now I will have to pay. As Forrest Gump once said (concerning HMRC) "Stupid is as Stupid does"!!!

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By Ian017
to penelope pitstop
21st Jul 2016 15:59

If you have inclusive calls to 01 and 02 numbers, Ofcom rules in place since 2007 ensure that you also have inclusive calls to 03 numbers.

This applies both on landlines and on mobiles.

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24th Apr 2013 11:35

Not good news for me

O2 phone are not covering O3  rang them today .  So now I am going to have to pay when my 0845 was free.  I guess I will need to organise another package.  

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24th Apr 2013 12:30

0845 vs 03

Just to clarify: calls to 0845 numbers cannot be cheaper than calls to 03 numbers. If Sarah's phone provider offered 'free' calls to 0845 (eg on BT's residential package for calls up to 1 hour), then this same package must include 01, 02 and 03.

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24th Apr 2013 13:14

0845 / 03


Sarah the chances are that the person you spoke to simply didn't understand the 03 numbers.

See this from Ofcom - 


Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and must count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls.

These rules apply to calls from any type of line including mobile, BT, other fixed line or payphone

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24th Apr 2013 21:29

0845 not free from O2
Sarah Douglas are you sure O2 don't charge you for 0845 calls?

I'm with O2 as well and have spent quite a bit of time trying to find a way of reducing the cost of 0845 calls to HMRC. I can't find any O2 tariff or bolt-on that includes them. I've seen a posting on the web saying that O2 used to give free 0845 calls but withdrew that about 18 months ago.

I use Skype to call HMRC at the moment. When the 03 switch comes in I'll be able to go back to using the inclusive minutes on the mobile.

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24th Apr 2013 21:58

O2, 03, oh no!

How many times is HMRC going to shoot itself in the foot, this year?

Perhaps this move was made with the best of intentions, but once again that old adage is proved:

"Never assume - it only makes an ass[***] out of u and me."

The year of HM Right Cock[***]-ups continues; can't wait for the next installment...

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24th Apr 2013 22:38

yes I am Sure 0845 numbers are free as well as 0870

Yes I am sure .   Because that is the only reason I signed up for their broadband and 02 phone .  My package is 19.50 a month including broadband and 600 free mins a month  international as well. 

Sky have only recently taken over O2 Phone.  I have been on this contract for about 2 years now.  I also use Sage Cover a lot for clients and that was  my main reason for agreeing to the package.

BT Package of 4.95 add on also gives you 0845 numbers free .

I suspect the person may not have known what they were talking about for 03 as I checked my mobile and they are included in my all inclusive.    

I have just checked my bills online I am not been charged for 0845 numbers. 






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25th Apr 2013 08:29

Here is the link

It is the any time option.

I am self employed and not Ltd , so I do not need to book it under a LTD name it allows you to get a better deal.   

Hope this helps 

It clearly says 600mins a month for 0845 and 0870 numbers. 

I moved to an office premises in the last 2 months  we have searched out pretty much the same deal for us . Not sure who with but I can ask her . 


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25th Apr 2013 19:16


Two points:

(1) I think that Sarah and Sampsonar may be confusing different services provided by O2, as they provide both mobile and landline services; each has different options and charges.
 - Mobiles never (or almost never) provide 0845 numbers as part of their bundled minutes. Some landline providers (eg BT and possibly O2) include calls to 0845 in their bundled minutes or free calling allowances. So Sarah may get free calls to 0845 from her O2 LANDLINE, but sampsonar may pay for 0845 calls from their MOBILE.

(2) ALL UK phone providers (mobile and landline) MUST charge for calls to 03 numbers at the same rate that they charge for 01 and 02 (including any bundling or free call allowances).

Thus the move from 0845 to 03 CANNOT be a bad thing for anyone. HMRC have NOT "shoot itself in the foot" (per Zebedee). If 0845 calls are free for you, you will still get free calls to 03. If 0845 is charged for you, 03 will be included in any bundled or free package, so 03 is at least as good or better for EVERYONE.

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to andy.partridge
25th Apr 2013 22:22

Absolutely correct charliecarne, I was referring to mobile phone tariffs (in fact I thought O2 was a mobile phone company - I didn't realise you could get a landline from them!)

I relinquished my landline some time ago, whilst retaining the number (incoming calls are forwarded to the mobile). All works well, with the exception that calls to HMRC, which I make fairly regularly, were proving expensive. The switch to 03 numbers sounds like good news for me at least.

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26th Apr 2013 23:00

Calling packages including 0845, 0870, 01, 02 & 03 numbers

Most telephone packages offered by either BT or Talk Talk that include free calls during the working day cover all national numbers that start with 01, 02 or 03.  In addition BT and Talk Talk include 0845 and 0870 as additional free calling numbers. The 03 number was introduced by the Government as a "non-geographical number" which must be charged at the local rate.  For those packages that include local calls 03 numbers will be free.   It is the 0871 and 0844 numbers, where the actual call rate differs for each telephone number which are the problems and it I noted that when BT and Talk Talk first offered free calls to 0845 and 0870 many call centres changed to 0871 and 0844.  In particular a number of GP's changed to 0844 when the Government specifically asked them to move to 03 numbers.  For most people the move by HMRC to an 03 number must mean that where a peak time call to local numbers is included in their package all calls will be free and for those where it is not only a local call charge will apply.

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By Vince54
05th May 2013 23:14

Wow, cheaper phone calls ...

... but it doesn't resolve the costs incurred by us "customers" still having to hang on for an eternity before being able to speak to someone who can (hopefully) resolve the query.  Big Deal

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