5.7m taxpayers still to file tax returnsby
The clock is ticking for the nearly 5.7m taxpayers left to file their 2022/23 tax return before the 31 January deadline, who are having to do so with limited telephone support.
There may be less than a month before the self assessment deadline, but 5.7m taxpayers still haven’t managed to tick this task off their 2023 to-do list before welcoming in the New Year.
This number of taxpayers left to file mirrors the number at the start of 2023.
Filing over the festive period
Of the 6.5m taxpayers who have already filed, a number used the Christmas and New Year period to tackle their tax obligations.
HMRC has reported that 23,724 taxpayers filed on New Year’s Day – this is more than the 17,571 taxpayers last January who stuck to their New Year resolution to submit their tax return.
On New Year’s Eve, 25,593 taxpayers filed their returns, with 127 opting to complete theirs moments after singing Auld Lang Syne – between midnight and 12.59am.
Similarly, taxpayers and accountants used the three-day Christmas period to give themselves the present of tax return-free January.
HMRC has revealed that 25,769 returns were filed over the festive period. Christmas Eve saw 8,876 filed, while 4,757 were submitted on Christmas Day, with the peak seeing 402 returns filed as the turkey was being carved between noon and 12.59pm. There was slightly more action on Boxing Day, with 12,136 tax returns filed.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “The clock is ticking for those customers yet to file their tax return. Don’t put it off – kick start the new year by sorting your self assessment.”
Lloyd’s rallying call for taxpayers to not leave their tax returns until the last minute comes as HMRC has limited telephone support in the run up to the 31 January deadline.
In early December, HMRC announced that it will be screening calls until the deadline to assess the complexity of taxpayers’ and agents’ questions, and any that it thinks can be answered using online resources will be directed to a digital service.
Meanwhile, the Agent Dedicated Line will take calls only about self assessment filing, and payments and repayments, during this SA peak, leaving agents with other queries, including PAYE, having to use other channels or online assistance.
Shortly before Christmas, HMRC also reminded agents to “not use multiple contact channels when trying to contact us”. As an example, it said that agents shouldn’t call and use the webchat at the same time for the same query as “this is creating additional and needless demand for our services”.
AccountingWEB readers have raised concerns about the restrictions. Regular reader Fact Checker, who flagged the HMRC missive to agents on Any Answers, said: “People (whether agents or taxpayers) don’t in general choose to phone HMRC as one of several options. They do so because the other options don’t exist or (frequently) exist but are broken, and the need for an answer or a resolution is desperate.”
The new restrictions to the telephone support service comes after the self assessment helplines were closed for three months during the summer, sparking fears at the time that it would create a bottleneck of taxpayers trying to file in January.
As reader Open All Hours reflected in December: “If HMRC had been capable of dealing with matters promptly at the less busy time there would not be a need to chase them at a more busy time.”
Last January, the average wait times for the helpline increased to 27 minutes, compared to 12 minutes in January 2022.