Wednesday July 31 marks the mid-year tax deadline for making second payments on accounts relating to 2012/13. But if you have any queries about your payment do not expect your call to the taxman to be answered swiftly.
As the deadline approaches, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)2 expects a spike in the number of calls to its helplines. A report in December found that one in four calls to the taxman during 2012 went unanswered. Taxpayers are also estimated to have paid £136m in waiting time and call charges when calling the tax helpline. Following pressure from MPs, HMRC then set itself a target to ensure that 80pc of calls would be answered within five minutes – and it is getting better.
Martin Casimir, managing director at accountant Bloomsbury Professional, said: “HMRC has taken a step in the right direction, but five minutes is still a long time to wait.”
It was announced in January that the taxman would switch customer helplines from 0845 prefixes to cheaper 03 numbers by the end of the summer, so that those who were hanging on would at least not have to pay so much.
According to HMRC, the new phone system has completed a rigorous testing programme and is expected to be “fully deployed in the autumn following a phased release schedule”.
An HMRC spokesman said: “Wait times have reduced significantly, with 85pc of calls being answered in two minutes.”
But when the Telegraph called HMRC’s self-assessment helpline at 5.30pm last Thursday, the call took 23 minutes and 54 seconds to be answered.