HMRC customers could miss self-assessment deadline - according to finance experts

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Customers have until the last day of January to submit their self-assessment tax return.

HMRC customers who are likely to miss this month’s self assessment tax deadline are on the rise, according to finance experts. 

RIFT have analysed government data, finding that customers are struggling to get help regarding their self-assessment tax.

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The data analysed found that 12 million people submitted a self-assessment last year, with £42.9bn paid in self-assessment income tax. 8% of people missed the deadline.

It also found a 56% increase in time taken to answer calls by HMRC, with the average waiting time for a call sat at 22 minutes and 18 seconds. 

HMRC’s web chat service has since had 99,381 submissions, which has increased by 139.5% recently.

Many customers are in danger of being out of pocket, and could possibly face financial penalties if they miss the self-assessment tax deadline. Customers are worried that they may underpay or overpay on the tax owed. 

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The average tax refund currently stands at £1,625, increasing by 5.1% in the last year. 

HMRC customers to miss self-assessment deadline due to helpline closure.HMRC customers to miss self-assessment deadline due to helpline closure.
HMRC customers to miss self-assessment deadline due to helpline closure. | ink drop - stock.adobe.com

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Bradley Post, MD of RIFT, commented: "For those still struggling with a self-assessment the best advice at this late stage is to contact them as early as possible with any query, have your finances well organised before you do and, if you're still at a loss, seek the help of additional industry professionals such as an accountant, or a tax return specialist like RIFT."

HMRC say they are not limiting customer service capacity on the self-assessment telephone helpline, but are prioritising self-assessment calls relating to returns, repayments and complex matters, and calls from vulnerable or digitally excluded customers ahead of the January 31 deadline. 

The changes that were implemented in early December to the self-assessment helpline have seen about 15 to 20% of helpline callers directed to online services, say HMRC, which has contributed towards a reduced expected call demand. It meant in December, HMRC were able to answer around 76% of calls with an average wait time of 25 minutes compared to December 2022, when they answered 57% of calls with an average wait time of 28 minutes.

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A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We want to help and encourage customers to resolve their issues as quickly and easily as possible. This is often through our online services, which save people having to wait on the phone or write to us.

“This frees up our expert advisors to help people with urgent and more complicated queries as well as helping the small number unable to access our online services.

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“Millions of people already sort their taxes online, with more than 80% satisfied with their experience.”

By Wednesday, January 31 at midnight, all self-employed workers are expected to have filed their self-assessment tax returns.

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