HMRC expands SMS service

02 May 2023

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced that SMS service, which was launched in January 2023 has been extended.

HMRC has reported that in the first two months, SMS messages were sent to 180,000 customers. Following the success of the trial HMRC is extending this service - with more routine queries being trialled to encourage customers to operate tax affairs digitally.

To help with waiting times and being on hold, callers to HMRC helplines with certain queries have been receiving SMS messages with links to digital services since the initial launch of the trial. The aim of this service is to provide a quicker service while freeing-up HMRC’s advisers to help people with more complex queries.

HMRC reported that the trial saw 38.7 per cent of callers who received a text message about quicker digital services, leave the call without needing to call back within seven days.  Therefore, HMRC will now continue running the SMS service and expand it to more helplines and queries as part of a larger trial.

Richard West, Director of Personal Tax Operations at HMRC, said:

‘‘We are continuing to transform and improve our digital services so customers can get answers to many of their queries quicker and easier than they would by calling or writing to us.

The new SMS service has already helped point people to where they can get the quickest answer – and I’m delighted we can save more people from waiting on hold.”

From 4 May 2023, the service will be expanded to include other routine queries which could be answered online and customers calling about these, will be given the option to either receive a link to the online service or remain on the phone.

Instances where the SMS will be offered or sent, include queries on:

  • proof of entitlement document for child benefit
  • voluntary national insurance contributions (NI) and checking NI records
  • applying, amending or cancelling marriage allowance
  • checking for receipt of a voluntary NI payment
  • when to expect a reply from HMRC

HMRC will continue to automatically redirect the below routine queries to its digital services:

  • finding a unique taxpayer reference (UTR) number
  • registering for HMRC online services
  • lost or forgotten online service password or user ID

The following routine queries will be added to these and redirected automatically:

  • enquiries about claiming tax credits (HMRC is signposting to benefit entitlements information on GOV.UK as tax credits has been replaced by universal credits)
  • requests for a state pension forecast

Customers calling about the following queries will continue to receive an SMS message but still be given the option to redirect or remain on the phone to HMRC:

  • help filling a self-assessment tax return 
  • queries on whether to register for self-assessment or complete a tax return 
  • lost NI number or request for a letter confirming their number.

You can get extra support if your health condition or personal circumstances make it difficult when you contact HMRC. The extra support team can be contacted directly by the customer or by advisers for their clients.

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