HMRC is piloting an automated SMS system

25 January 2023

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is trialling a new SMS service, which will help customers quickly and easily get the information they’re looking for online. The trial comes after improvements to information and access to their digital services, together with the self-assessment deadline approaching.  

This month, HMRC expects around 170,000 calls with queries which can be answered swiftly online. From 19 January 2023, HMRC has advised they might send you a text message if you call one of their helplines from a mobile phone asking for help with a routine matter. The trial will run until the end of this tax year; however, this shouldn’t affect the agent dedicated helpline.

HMRC has said:

‘‘On the call, we will tell you to expect a text message — it will be either immediately or shortly after our call. In the text message we might send you a link to relevant GOV.UK information or webchat. You will not be asked to input any information.”

Instances where the SMS will be offered or sent include:  

  • find your unique taxpayer reference 

  • help registering for HMRC online services 

  • lost or forgotten online service password or user ID 

  • queries on whether you should register for self-assessment or still have to complete a tax return 

  • requests for income and employment history 

  • lost National Insurance number, or a letter confirming your number 

  • help filling in your tax return. 

For more complex queries, customers will be given the option to be redirected or remain on the phone.

Richard West, director of personal tax operations at HMRC, said:

"Redirecting these sorts of queries to online services should help customers find the answer more quickly. It also means calls from customers during the current self-assessment peak, whose questions cannot easily be answered online and require help from an adviser, get the appropriate support they need.

“Customers who cannot use digital services will be able to get support in the normal way. This is available through our telephony service and through our extra support team for those who have difficulty using our other services."

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.

January is a very busy month especially for tax scams, and it is important to be aware of phishing emails, suspicious phone calls and texts. Read more on this and how to report this to HMRC. Payroll professionals can also check recent contacts from HMRC to help them decide if a suspicious email, phone call, text or letter could be a scam.

Information provided in this news article may be subject to change. Please make note of the date of publication to ensure that you are viewing up to date information.