HMRC struggling to cope

Posted on 08 Apr 2024
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HMRC bosses fear helpline will be swamped by calls on stealth taxes

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is concerned about its customer service helpline being overwhelmed as millions of people are hit by "stealth taxes." The helpline has already struggled to cope with the 30m calls received in the past year. With tax bands frozen until 2028-29, more people will seek answers to their tax queries, potentially leading to an increase in the number of people paying the wrong amount of tax. Senior HMRC officials were called in for talks after plans to close the helpline for six months were announced. The freezing of tax thresholds means that 3.7m people will pay income tax for the first time in 2028-29, and 2.7m people will find themselves in higher tax brackets. The House of Commons Library analysis shows that freezing the personal allowance and higher-rate threshold is equivalent to a 4.5% rise in income tax by 2028-29. The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman, Sarah Olney, expressed concerns about the pressure on the helpline and the possibility of people accidentally paying too much tax. HMRC is encouraging the use of digital services to manage tax affairs, but the helpline will continue to support vulnerable individuals and those with complex tax affairs. The freezing of tax thresholds was defended by the Treasury as necessary to repay the funds spent during the pandemic and the energy crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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