HMRC say they're extending the trial of using text messages to redirect helpline callers to online services. They claim this method is a successful one as 38% of taxpayers do not phone back.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has reported that more queries to the HMRC's phone helpline will be redirected by text messages to specific online information pages. It does not affect agent lines.

The trial, which began in January, aims to reduce the pressure on phone services and has been rolled out further. In the first two months of the trial, SMS messages were sent to 180,000 callers. HMRC report that as 38.7% did not call back within seven days as a result and was deemed 'a success'.

According to the ICAEW, from 4 May 2023, callers will be given the new options to either receive a link to the online service or remain on the phone for the following types of query:

  • Proof of entitlement document for child benefit.
  • Voluntary National Insurance Contributions and checking national insurance record.
  • Applying for, amending, or cancelling Marriage allowance.
  • Checking for receipt of a voluntary national insurance payment.
  • When to expect a reply from HMRC.

Some queries will not be given the option to stay on the phone but automatically be redirected to HMRC's website pages and these include: 

  • Enquiries about claiming tax credits.
  • Requests for a state pension forecast.
  • Finding your unique taxpayer reference number and Registering for HMRC online services.
  • Lost or forgotten online service password or user ID.

Useful guides on this topic

National Insurance: Rates
What are the current National Insurance rates? What rates will apply to next year?

Marriage Allowance (Transferable Married Couples Allowance)
The Marriage Allowance, also referred to as the Transferable Allowance for Married Couples and Civil Partners, was introduced on 6 April 2015. What is it? How can I claim it?

Registering for Tax: Self-employment
You are self-employed, you have started working for yourself, what do you need to do now? How to register for tax. When do you pay tax? What records do you keep?

External links

ICAEW: HMRC extends and expands redirect to SMS trial

HMRC: Check if a text message you've received from HMRC is genuine

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