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HMRC rolls out new NI number and tax code access services

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Individual taxpayers can now view their national insurance confirmation letter online and decipher the tax code, without having to log in to an existing account, thanks to two new services rolled out by HMRC.

30th Aug 2023
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The new Store my National Insurance Number feature allows taxpayers to view their national insurance (NI) confirmation letter online or via the HMRC app, rather than waiting up to 15 days for the tax authority to resend the letter by post.

Accessible via a taxpayer’s Personal Tax Account (PTA) or the HMRC smartphone app, individual users can generate a copy of their NI letter and save it to their device as a PDF, store a copy of the letter in their device via a digital app wallet (Google Wallet or Apple Wallet) that enables access to it in the future without signing into their digital account, or they can print or share the letter directly.

With all of the options above, HMRC recommends that taxpayers protect any details they may have been saved via a security code or pattern set on the relevant device.

HMRC is keen to point out that this is not a mandated service and taxpayers can still contact them by telephone to request NI details. 

While the service potentially affects anyone with a live NI number (currently around 83m people), it is more likely to benefit the 17m existing PTA or HMRC users, plus the 1.6m people allocated a new NI number each year by either the Department for Work and Pensions or HMRC.

Tax code tool

Originally launched in December 2022, HMRC’s Check what your tax code means tool was updated on 30 June 2023 and has been moved to a new location on gov.uk.

The service allows taxpayers to decipher the tax code found on their payslip, Tax Code Notice’ letter from HMRC or Personal Tax Account (if they have one) without having to log in to any of the tax authority’s services.

By answering a series of questions posed by the web-based tool, taxpayers can find out how much tax they will pay (broken down into weekly, four-weekly, monthly and yearly figures), what the letters in their tax code mean, and find out more information about what to do if they think their tax code is incorrect.

Relieving helpline pressure

According to HMRC, part of the rationale behind the new solutions is to make its services more streamlined and take the pressure off its ailing telephone helplines.

Revenue figures show that last year the tax authority received more than three million calls on just three topics: resetting an online password, obtaining a tax code, and getting a National Insurance number. The tax authority claims this works out to almost 500 people working full time to answer those calls.

Statistics accompanying the new NI number service state that HMRC receives an estimated 519,000 phone calls a year from people looking for confirmation of their NI number, while 53,000 use HMRC’s webchat for the same reason.

AccountingWEB view

As a publication that is often quick to point out gaps in HMRC’s digital services, it’s only fair that we should congratulate it on its successes. While relatively minor tweaks in terms of the overall scope of its offerings, the two changes should actually help achieve their aims. 

What is perhaps most encouraging about the additional services is that they are in response to a genuine need (according to HMRC’s own figures), are not mandated to the general public, and other services are not being removed to make way for them.

When making future changes to its digital services, however major they may be, we hope that HMRC bears these examples in mind.

Replies (44)

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By Hugo Fair
30th Aug 2023 17:30

I hope you're not being premature when you say "it’s only fair that we should congratulate (HMRC) on its successes" ... there's a lot of history that points to a canyon-sized gap between what they announce and what they actually deliver!

Also can you please provide the sources for the various figures in:
".. anyone with a live NI number (currently around 83m people) ... the 17m existing PTA or HMRC users, plus the 1.6m people allocated a new NI number each year by either the Department for Work and Pensions or HMRC"?
It's not you that I'm doubting, Tom, but HMRC have form for 'building a case' on the back of untraceable figures ... and the first two of those, at least, seem dubious.

What would be interesting (albeit an entirely different topic) would be an FoI that asks how many of those 'with a PTA' have logged in more than once (ever)?
And of those, how many log in more than once pa?
[The *vast* majority of the unrepresented are unaware even of its existence.]

Thanks (14)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
30th Aug 2023 22:49

Very happy to provide my source material for the figures. It's in the 2nd section of this impact assessment:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/store-my-national-insurance-n...

A link was included to it at the very top of the article, but I didn't make the connection between the link and the figures, apologies for that.

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Replying to TomHerbert:
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By Hugo Fair
31st Aug 2023 13:32

Thanks, Tom.

As I said: "It's not you that I'm doubting, Tom, but HMRC have form for 'building a case' on the back of untraceable figures".
So the 'source' to which I was optimistically referring was the 'origin' of the data, not merely the place from which *you* extracted it.
And of course, HMRC provide no citation for those statistics - which is par for their usual approach (as best evidenced in the fantasies known as TIINs).

Knowing their predilection for weasel words (or at least sufficient vagueness to allow wriggle room later), there are some interesting 'facts' even in what little they write:
* "everyone with a live NINO" appears to have omitted "but are no longer alive themselves"!
* "PTA/HMRC existing users: 17 million (estimated)" - see my previous point, but can HMRC really only estimate the number of PTAs?!?
* the number of people who attempt contact by phone or webchat is qualified by "estimated, this is calls not individual people" - and we all know what that means!
As a bonus point, they refer to a "NINON" - presumably intended to be a NINO Number (but in which case what do they think the NO stands for)?

Aside of castigating their 'say anything we like' style, the important point is that their style has now come to be seen as a mere nod in the direction of avoiding outright mendacity - since all that matters is 'the message'.
And the result is that fewer and fewer people are willing to trust or accept the message!

Thanks (6)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Morph
By kevinringer
31st Aug 2023 15:30

NINON, made my day.

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Replying to kevinringer:
By Democratus
05th Sep 2023 10:37

Can you access a NINON with a PIN Number?

Thanks (1)
boxfile
By spilly
30th Aug 2023 21:07

How can there be 83 million live NI numbers? The UK population is only about 68 million with approximately 10 million under the age of 16 that won’t have been issued with a number yet. Surely there aren’t 25 million seasonal/temp workers?

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Replying to spilly:
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
30th Aug 2023 22:52

A fair question. The only decent breakdown I can get my hands on is this from Hansard in 2002!

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2002-01-14/debates/6697bc53-de74-44a...

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Replying to TomHerbert:
boxfile
By spilly
31st Aug 2023 09:08

Thanks for that link. It gives more clarity to how the 83 million figure is arrived at. I especially liked it that the deceased are not dead to HMRC - death and taxes continue to have their own afterlife in their systems!

Thanks (6)
Replying to spilly:
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By SXGuy
31st Aug 2023 09:52

I did used to chuckle when you'd get a paper SA through the post and it would have Deceased written on it. The running joke was wondering when the deceased person would get round to completing it and whether it would be on time or not.

Thanks (1)
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By possep
31st Aug 2023 07:25

HMRC are useless and there are 1,000,000,000 reasons why I will not yet "congratulate it on its successes". Stop praising a useless woke sinking ship. I have cases where I have been waiting a response for over 2 years from client's that don't need to know their NINO and are self employed (so no coding notices) waiting refunds etc. What about them? This woke promotional guff that HMRC issue is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

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Replying to possep:
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By possep
31st Aug 2023 08:14

edit - for clients

Thanks (1)
Replying to possep:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
31st Aug 2023 08:53

How is it woke?

I am assuming you are using the pejorative definition of woke here, given the tone of the rest of your comment.

Thanks (6)
Replying to possep:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
31st Aug 2023 09:17

Eh?

I cant seem anything here about HMRC's awareness of racial prejudice and discrimination in this text in launching what looks like a PAYE calculator for tax codes.

"woke" does not mean "anything you don't like"

Thanks (6)
Replying to possep:
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By graydjames
31st Aug 2023 09:39

WOKE .................!!!!!! ??????????

What planet are you on?

This term "Woke" is now used for everything that those, usually from the right, often from the far right, view, through their tinted spectacles, as something they object to. It no longer matters what it is, but so often it is miles away from anything that could be properly described as "woke" - even in its modern usage. Most people who use the term have no clue as to what it really means and you certainly don't given the context in which you have used it. Since the word came into vogue (itself a hijacking, and misinterpreting, of the word, originally from African-American culture), people use it, mostly, because they are unable to think of a better word to describe their, usually prejudiced, objection.

Having made that clear, I will also say that your conclusion about HMRC in terms of their incompetence, even if your one billion reasons claim is a silly exaggeration, I agree with. But it's not woke.

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Replying to graydjames:
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By SXGuy
31st Aug 2023 09:54

Thank you for your non bias descriptive of what the word woke means...

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Justin Bryant
31st Aug 2023 10:39

Yes indeed. It used to be called PCGM. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness

I remember thinking it was a joke when told in the early 1990s that chairmen and chairwomen would be known forthwith simply as chairs. You now see health warnings for old TV programmes (if they're not completely banned). Whatever next?

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Replying to graydjames:
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By possep
31st Aug 2023 13:43

We are no longer in 2010. it is used as word or grammatical form expressing a negative or a disrespectful connotation, a low opinion, or a lack of respect toward someone or something.

Thanks (0)
Replying to possep:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
31st Aug 2023 14:21

possep wrote:

We are no longer in 2010. it is used as word or grammatical form expressing a negative or a disrespectful connotation, a low opinion, or a lack of respect toward someone or something.

It really isn't. It's negative use is for

a) accusing someone of pretending to care about social issues and injustice for image purposes rather than actual belief.

b) by those with a right-wing bias, based on or having politically liberal views.

If you have some evidence that anyone but you uses it as a general negative term that doesn't fit into either of those, please link to it.

My source - https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woke

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By possep
31st Aug 2023 21:17
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Replying to possep:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
26th Sep 2023 08:44

possep wrote:

Try reading something else then:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pejorative#:~:text=A%20pejorative%2C%20slu....

Doesn't include the word "woke" anywhere on that page. Not sure why you think it's relevant to the specific question of what woke means.
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Replying to possep:
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By AdamJones82
31st Aug 2023 10:36

Woke? I literally spat out my drink while reading that.

You really need to step away from reading the Daily Mail and watching GB News.

Thanks (9)
Replying to AdamJones82:
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By jon dickinson
31st Aug 2023 12:05

Yeah-Perhaps he should read that unbiased publication-The Guardian instead?

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Replying to jon dickinson:
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By AdamJones82
31st Aug 2023 12:14

Touched a nerve did I?! Pretty sure that doesn’t spout hate-filled bile with foaming spittle on its lips

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Replying to AdamJones82:
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By jon dickinson
31st Aug 2023 17:46

Seem to have touched one with you:-) (It does by the way!) We obviously have very different political views.

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Replying to AdamJones82:
Chris M
By mr. mischief
31st Aug 2023 16:18

GB News a.k.a "G Beebies" 99% GB, 1% news. Ofcom have confirmed it is not classified as a news channel, hence does not require to meet the standards of reporting as per BBC, ITV, Sky.

Thanks (1)
Replying to mr. mischief:
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By jon dickinson
31st Aug 2023 17:47

Are you seriously suggesting that the BBC aren't biased????

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Replying to jon dickinson:
Chris M
By mr. mischief
06th Sep 2023 16:26

No, I didn't say that. Or indeed give any opinion about any news channel. I merely gave factual information about which channels meet the legal definition of news broadcasters, and one that does not.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
31st Aug 2023 09:21

I am confused by this.

So the sorts of people who call up about missing NI numbers, are they the same people who would use this tool..............? I guess some of them might, but my guess is people making those calls are not exactly in the high tech bracket.

Half a million caller per annum is what, once in every two life times?

On the coding notice tool, that is presumably a generic tool, very much like all the tax calculators out there.......cant see that answering many questions. Clients know what the tax code as done to their PAYE, as that is the point they come shouting and asking questions......

Hmm. Half a cheer prehaps?

Thanks (4)
David Ross
By davidross
31st Aug 2023 09:26

"are not mandated to the general public"

Does this mean that the General Public does not have to use them? Could we please have Plain English. Mandate as a noun means an order to do something and as a verb implies permission to do something. In short, it's confusing!

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Replying to davidross:
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By SXGuy
31st Aug 2023 09:56

The joke is even if it were mandated, the word mandate in blacks law does not mean it's a legal requirement, merely a request. So even if it had been, do we take that as still being optional?

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Replying to davidross:
Tom Herbert
By Tom Herbert
31st Aug 2023 10:32

My apologies David. What I should have said was that people can still call HMRC to access their NI letter, they don't have to use the new online service.

Thanks (1)
John Hextall
By John Hextall
31st Aug 2023 09:49

Who on Earth would want to put an HMRC app on their phone in order to view their NI number?

Thanks (4)
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By raju m
31st Aug 2023 10:04

Congratulation HMRC. All the HMRC staff deserve big bonuses of at least a million pound each and 4 weeks extra holidays this year.??????????????????????????Raj Mehta

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By mydoghasfleas
31st Aug 2023 10:24

To some extent this is an admission that the data is already there if you have a PTA, so why is the PTA not used? Simple answer might be that the 2 stage identification entry to it is like trying to solve the wall in Only Connect; then, just as you work out how to do it a different authentication requirement appears. To set up the second stage you need your passport, driving licence, self assessment record (one of the things it will allow you to access when you have got through) and the inside leg measurement of your third cousin twice removed and the name of their pet - I am not sure about the last one but the pain in my head from trying to get into the PTA makes me think it I may be right.

2 stage authentication works smoothly with banks, investment platforms, with a phone call or text, so why does HMRC go for something else?

HMRC has been berated by various committees for not getting all the taxes under one portal despite promises that it would, and now we get another one. Try explaining all of this to clients who glaze over when you say, "tax" to them.

I believe the problem of getting all the information under one access point for the individual is none of HMRC's internal systems were designed to work with each other. If you received a bank statement that was laid out like a self assessment statement of account, would you be tempted to switch banks? Software is specified for a specific task and little thought is given to integration with other systems; I was tempted to say integrity as I have no idea how robust HMRC systems are and, if there was a data leak, would it notice?

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By raybackler
31st Aug 2023 10:24

I have just downloaded the app and it has the same information as in the personal tax account. It is easier for taxpayers to access, but they have to go through the pain of setting up a personal tax account anyway. I did this with a friend a couple of weeks ago and it was laborious, but improved from when I set my own up a few years ago.

I thought I would update my medical insurance for my tax code because it has gone up. Can't do that in the personal tax account and can't do it in the app. I have some additional non coded income and want it removed, because it was cleared last year. Can't do that either. So I have to call or leave it. As the amounts are not far from cancelling each other out, I will leave it to next year's self assessment. Can't be bothered with a call.

Oh and I set the app up access via facial recognition, but it is not working, so access to the app is gateway ID, password and a texted code. I always tick the box that says remember me for seven days, but it doesn't.

So, in summary HMRC have created an app that mirrors the shortcomings in the personal tax account, but I can now save my NI number to Apple Wallet!

Thanks (5)
Replying to raybackler:
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By Homeworker
01st Sep 2023 12:55

raybackler wrote:

I thought I would update my medical insurance for my tax code because it has gone up. Can't do that in the personal tax account and can't do it in the app. I have some additional non coded income and want it removed, because it was cleared last year. Can't do that either. So I have to call or leave it. As the amounts are not far from cancelling each other out, I will leave it to next year's self assessment. Can't be bothered with a call.


I logged into my husband's PTA (I have his authority to log in) as I wanted to get his allowances transferred from his salary (reduced this year) to his pension. The only way was to say his salary would be nil this year which worked. I guess you can get coded income removed the same way...
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By Retrocanary
31st Aug 2023 10:32

Am I missing something? I'm sure I've been able to do this online for years?

If there are people out there who can't work out how to log in to the existing gateway services, they're surely not now going to be able to work it out on a phone app?

As with train ticket office closures and removal of cash parking meters - the political solution is never to employ people to provide assistance, the solution is always to force people to use tech, and if they're not tech literate they're left to rot.

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By carnmores
31st Aug 2023 10:49

This should be fun

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Morph
By kevinringer
31st Aug 2023 11:28

I'm puzzled. The article says:

"Individual taxpayers can now view their national insurance confirmation letter online and decipher the tax code, without having to log in to an existing account..."

But then says:

"Accessible via a taxpayer’s Personal Tax Account (PTA) or the HMRC smartphone app..."

How do taxpayers log into their PTA without logging into an existing account?

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By dmmarler
31st Aug 2023 11:41

Hang on - from my understanding of what is described anyone can get hold of a taxpayer's NI number. Where are the controls personal data?

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By Barry Adams
31st Aug 2023 14:44

That's great.

But I recently downloaded and tried to login to the smartphone App and couldn't and I am an accountant!

It referred to me to a helpline number to resolve my login issue. When I rang the number it said that that number cannot be used for that issue!

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By Mr J Andrews
31st Aug 2023 16:31

Wow. Two new services rolled out by HMRC. Chances are two taxpayers will use either. HMRC statistics are meaningless.
And good to see the Revenue have pointed out that taxpayers can still contact them by telephone. They should have added ''........ but, as before , don't expect us to pick up the phone and respond......''
Sorry Tom, but I totally disagree and do not consider this ''service'' to be worthy of congratulations. Just another deviation from getting the house in full order.

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By raybackler
31st Aug 2023 23:22

I just used the income tax checking tool. It knows my monthly salary from RTI and so gives an accurate estimate of annual salaried earnings. Next question - are you over state pension age. Yes say I, but my income estimate is not adjusted, so it incorrectly gives a tax calculation based on my salary alone. Nowhere to enter any state pension details and no pick up of the state pension amount from elsewhere in my personal tax account. Don't they know tax codes are adjusted for state pension?

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By Ian McTernan CTA
02nd Sep 2023 13:33

The problem with the first 'solution' is that it relies on the PTA...of which there are apparently 17m out of 83m NINOs...whihc leaves the majority of people (including almost everyone that likes to call/doesn't like using the PTA), so the solution misses it's mark almost entirely.

Almost no one I know either has or uses their PTA...as they lose the log in details pretty fast, then find it easier to just call rather than go through a long process just to regain access.

Perhaps HMRC should concentrate on making the whole system easier: for instance, why do people need both an NI number AND a UTR, why do employers need two reference numbers, why isn't the UTR used with letters for different taxes, etc.

And then you need a gateway number which is different again!!

Maybe if you could just use one system more people might want to use it- as it is, these solutions miss the mark as it's still easier to just pick up the phone and call. Until you make it easier to log in, people will always take the easy option.

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