The telephone helpline hours provided by HM Revenue & Customs will be reduced from 29th November 2010. From this date, the helplines will not be available on a Sunday and will close early on a Saturday, reducing the opening hours to 8am to 4pm. HMRC has said this is being done in order to relocate staff to busier periods when taxpayers are experiencing problems getting through. HMRC is also working towards an increase in the use of online services by the public for help and support.
A spokesperson for HMRC insists that the number of advisors has not been reduced and that the existing number have merely been redeployed to weekdays when the volume of calls received is much higher. One accountant believes the closure of the helpline on a Sunday is a result of the reduction in resources following the results of the spending review by the government, as well as it being cheaper to employ someone in the week rather than at weekends.
The increase of staff in the week will help professionals such as accountancy firms to be able to contact HMRC but there are fears that taxpayers will struggle to receive help, especially if they work unsocial hours all week. Saturday opening hours have been reduced along with Bank Holiday opening hours, which are the times when many people are able to phone the helplines.
Anyone experiencing difficulties with their tax affairs or approaching a deadline for filing online and require assistance would benefit by employing low cost accountants to ensure that they don’t fall foul of HMRC regulations.
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