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HMRC restores priority helpline for agents

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HMRC has announced a trial relaunch of the agent dedicated line (ADL), and has committed to slashing wait times to 10 minutes. But certain services will only be available through HMRC’s digital services. 

11th Jun 2021
Editor AccountingWEB
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Agents will no longer have to endure 40-plus minute wait times getting through to HMRC following the news today that the tax authority has relaunched the priority line for agents. 

Priority line returns on 14 June

HMRC confirmed that the agent line will return on 14 June on a trial basis. The line will operate from Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm, with agents advised to call 03000 200 3311. 

Following months of poor service complaints, HMRC has set itself the target of answering calls within 10 minutes. It will report to the professional bodies how it performs against that goal. However, HMRC has asked agents to spread calls throughout the day, and not just jam the phone lines as soon as the clock strikes 8am.   

HMRC has also encouraged agents to make use of its digital services, and to get information from clients where possible such as pay and tax details and employment histories. This would ensure the lines are clear for priority access and to maintain the service. 

The impact of no priority line

The withdrawal of a dedicated line for agents caused much consternation over the last year, as agents have seen wait times soar since the priority line was merged with the standard helpline at the start of pandemic. The prolonged wait times were made worse due to additional client demands agents faced during the lockdown restrictions. 

In particular, AccountingWEB readers complained during January’s self assessment busy season of lengthy wait times, with many waiting upwards of 45 minutes. AccountingWEB reader K81, for example, reported in March that they eventually got through to a helpline worker who said, "I don't deal with self-assessment, sorry" and then they hung up.

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Replies (26)

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blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
12th Jun 2021 06:43

HMRC are more out of touch with agents than I have ever known

1. Try digital first? Do you not think that if that was possible we would do that, the fact is that there are so many things that you cannot do online
2. spread calls across the day - what?
3. Agent income viewer - firstly why do we need an extra digital handshake, we already have 64-8 authorisation in place, secondly we supposedly already have that data via the API link but that data is so inaccurate if it is even there at all that its not worth bothering.
4. Ask the clients for the data? why when HMRC have all the data that should easily be available at the touch of a button.

The fact of the matter is that HMRC have shown over the last year that when they want to they can pull out all the stops and plow massive resources into IT systems that work on a massive scale, but they clearly do not make giving agents what we need to do our job a priority.

Thanks (9)
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By Paul Crowley
12th Jun 2021 11:41

64-8 Tells HMRC I am the agent
Separate one each for:
Person on SA
Partnership SA
Corp Tax
PAYE
VAT
CIS (despite being part of PAYE)
And all the others

All instantly destroyed by client at will or as a function of appointing new agent
All agents covered by data protection, GDPR and AML

Agents taking more care than HMRC over data protection as recently confirmed

Digital handshake limited to clients capable of such modern nonsence.

Why the F can HMRC not just do the job properly and recognise that agents are part of the tax collection system and will make HMRC's job less time consuming and increase accuracy.
Agent costs are met by taxpayers
In the last 5 years I have taken on at least 20 clients who previously filed by paper. 2 most recent are a Sir and a Lady neither of which will get any tax relief on my fee. (Agree, no idea why they picked an oik like me.)
HMRC are saving money time and accuracy on those clients every year.
Multiply that by every tax agent and the state should be applauding tax agents and their clients.

But no. Introduce more time wasting rather than let them get on with the job

Thanks (4)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Paul Crowley
12th Jun 2021 16:11

Forgot one
We get deleted on death of taxpayer
Really helpful to widows

Thanks (5)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By David Warren 2905
15th Jun 2021 11:15

Thank you. This is one of the most frustrating aspects. I'm unclear why they think in such a situation that we suddenly won't require old information, or have to check some point of detail.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By David Warren 2905
15th Jun 2021 11:15

Thank you. This is one of the most frustrating aspects. I'm unclear why they think in such a situation that we suddenly won't require old information, or have to check some point of detail.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By David Warren 2905
15th Jun 2021 11:15

Thank you. This is one of the most frustrating aspects. I'm unclear why they think in such a situation that we suddenly won't require old information, or have to check some point of detail.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By David Warren 2905
15th Jun 2021 11:15

Thank you. This is one of the most frustrating aspects. I'm unclear why they think in such a situation that we suddenly won't require old information, or have to check some point of detail.

Thanks (0)
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By BudgetB
13th Jun 2021 12:46

'Digital handshake' - so does this mean we will have to go to hell and back to get clients signed up for a GG account, same as CGT mini returns, in order to be able to view info that we should be able to access anyway given that we have a 64-8 in place!!

Thanks (2)
Replying to BudgetB:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
14th Jun 2021 11:48

Oh no, not the CGT return digital minuet!

Thanks (0)
Replying to Red Leader:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
14th Jun 2021 14:42

my guess is exactly that. They have a system. its cumbersome and doesn't work properly. Everyone hates it (HMRC staff as much as us and clients).

Guaranteed to be the chosen method.

Presumably this will then be an excuse not to post out the data to clients - having previously stopped us calling up to ask, which we wouldn't do if the data downloaded in the first place!

Thanks (0)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
15th Jun 2021 18:38

Given that they can't be trusted to put the right bit of paper in the right envelope, I'd have thought not posting stuff is an improvement

Thanks (0)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
14th Jun 2021 11:08

If the "digital" handshake requires the clients to have an SA record online, then the precise clients for whom it is helpful to have access to what HMRC holds (ie the poorly organised and digitally excluded, and generally cant be bothered with all this rubbish) are going to be left out again.

Introducing ANOTHER layer of complexity on top of the current agent authorisation system is just going to make things much much worse.

How about fixing the current half finished system for seeing what data HMRC hold on basic P11D and P60 figures? This seem to have been abandoned now.

Thanks (3)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Southwestbeancounter
14th Jun 2021 15:31

Yes that would be a start - it's so frustrating as we do a check of three systems to make sure nothing is missing (as client's often forget that a cashed in pension comes, for instance, into it!) and with the APi's not being updated it's near on useless!

Thanks (1)
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By Southwestbeancounter
14th Jun 2021 15:29

I read the email that came through from HMRC twice on Friday afternoon as I couldn't believe how arrogantly it was written! They appeared to be treating agents with complete distain!

'Where you can get the information you need from your client, that's what we expect you to do' - uh, yes! Why would we (up till now) wait up to an hour to ask for information on the phone from HMRC that we could have got from even the most difficult of clients!

'Where there are digital services we expect you to use them' - yes, obviously if the information was available to us as agents online then we would be daft not to access it that way but the things we ring about are usually chasing updates on letters etc that were sent to HMRC months and months before or mistakes that have been made by HMRC that a quick phone call should, in theory, be able to sort out.

I was quite shocked to read the tone of the email and it doesn't bode well for better agent v HMRC relationships going forward which as agents I am sure we would all welcome as it actually helps all concerned.

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Replying to Southwestbeancounter:
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By Paul Crowley
14th Jun 2021 15:45

Agents being the unwanted dregs of tax administration was not always the case.
We used to be respected by the local tax offices.
You know, those offices that were surplus to requirements.

Thanks (2)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Southwestbeancounter
14th Jun 2021 17:28

So very true Paul. We all worked together and it worked a treat!

If I didn't know the local tax inspectors by sight then I certainly knew their voices on the telephone. We had direct lines through to them and all was amicable as we worked as a team to get things done correctly and efficiently!

Now after 30+ years in business I feel as if we are perceived by HMRC as some form of reprobates!!

Thanks (1)
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By kelvindavies
14th Jun 2021 15:31

Still not good enough. The complaints should still stand. 10 mins is still a long time to wait when we have been used to 1 minute. Everyone else is being asked to get back in the office, so should HMRC!

Thanks (1)
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By Paul Crowley
14th Jun 2021 15:50

'HMRC has announced a TRIAL relaunch of the agent dedicated line (ADL), and has committed to slashing wait times to 10 minutes. But certain services will only be available through HMRC’s digital services. '

TRIAL
To be done away with if we ask too many difficult questions.
LIKE Why has the appeal sent May 2020, that you admit receiving, not had any action or response or reply?

Thanks (3)
Chris M
By mr. mischief
14th Jun 2021 19:10

It's not all bad news that HMRC are rubbish. Back in the 1990s, if I got a VAT enquiry I would happily bet my car that the Inspector knew more about VAT than me. After all he or she spent 100% of time on VAT, whereas VAT is at best 20% of my time.

Fast forward to 2021 and now I would happily bet my car that I KNOW MORE about VAT than the "Inspector" - or at least the revelant parts of the VAT Act to the client concerned. This is 90% down to the dumbing down of HMRC and 10% down to performance improvement from me.

What's not to like about that? Now instead of being confident that my client is going to have the gaps in my tax knowledge highlighted in an enquiry, on the contrary the client is instead going to see me running rings round HMRC and them getting no extra tax for their troubles.

So whenever their useless systems are causing me grief, I just think of all those many moments when they look like the total wallies they are in front of my clients, and all the £100,000s of client money they tried to get over the years - compared to the £105.00 they have actually got in enquiries. And I wanted to fight the £105, but as that was down from £50,000 my client just agreed to pay it instead.

Thanks (2)
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By MPCAAC
15th Jun 2021 10:26

Please confirm the phone number you have listed - I believe it is 0300 200 3311 not 03000 200 3311.
Which is correct?

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By Ammie
15th Jun 2021 10:56

Waiting times 10 Minutes? Then I would suggest that when you get through more often than not they won't be able to help and you will be advised to call another number with 40 minute + waiting times.

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By North East Accountant
15th Jun 2021 13:36

Very rarely do I praise HMRC..... but this is good news for all agents.

Well done HMRC for actually listening to people who have a clue what they are talking about.

Now if you can just do this elsewhere then maybe you'll not make a total hash of MTD, CGT Reporting etc......

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By anniem
15th Jun 2021 16:01

I thought the number was 0300 200 3311, NOT 03000 200 3311 as shown in the article??

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
16th Jun 2021 09:18

Isn't the new number 0118 999 88199 9119 725.......3?

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rebecca cave
By Rebecca Cave
16th Jun 2021 09:48

Do we know which Agent dedicated helplines are being restrored, as there are at least 3 different numbers:
For Tax Credits: 0345 300 3943
For tax debts: 0300 200 3887
For SA and PAYE: 0300 200 3311

Thanks (0)
Replying to Rebecca Cave:
By SteveHa
16th Jun 2021 14:51

What? So calls for tax credits on behalf of the most vulnerable are to a charging number?

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