HMRC is planning to close the VAT registration helpline, which is dedicated specifically to helping taxpayers who have questions about their VAT registration application
From Monday 22 May 2023, call centre advisers from this helpline will be redeployed to spend their entire time processing VAT registration applications instead of answering calls through the helpline.
HMRC has now written to businesses informing them that the service is being closed down. However, it did say that it would keep the closure under review, particularly after the tax office has been criticised for poor service levels.
This was acknowledged in the email to businesses. HMRC said: We recognise that performance across our core service lines still needs some improvement. We’re confident that this approach will help improve our customer service levels by allowing our colleagues to prioritise processing of these applications.’
HMRC is under pressure to improve service levels and is trying to persuade businesses to use online services rather than contacting call centres to speak to an HMRC staff member.
‘We constantly review our customer service offer to make sure that we prioritise our work in the best possible way to maximise our service offering to our customer groups who need it the most,’ HMRC said.
‘Last year, we trialled closing certain phone lines one day each week and found that we were able to clear more than 4,000 additional pieces of post each day on average.
‘We listened to feedback from our stakeholders and our colleagues and we started considering how our learning could be used to help our customer service offer in the future.’
HMRC said that over 85% of calls to the VAT registration helpline are from businesses and accountants who want an update on the progress of applications. The ‘Where’s my reply’ tool gives an expected response date. It added that HMRC staff are spending the majority of their time talking to taxpayers about their submitted applications and as that information is already available online ‘we believe this time can be better used by our colleagues to process those applications instead’.
It takes up to 40 working days to process a VAT registration and taxpayers are told not to contact HMRC within the first 40 days of submitting an application.
If a taxpayers submitted an application more than 40 working days ago, or they are replying to a request for further information (VAT 5), they should use HMRC’s dedicated email inbox, email@example.com. Taxpayers who have not received a response to their initial application within 40 working days, will receive a reply to their email within five working days.