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Tax Credits Deadline Passes; Did HMRC Investment Work For You?

At the beginning of June, the government issued a press release that reinforced the benefits of using HMRC’s online tax credit renewal service. Those more cynical may say that the urgency in the article was a plea by the tax man to use any method possible other than the ‘phone.

To be fair, you can renew your tax credits online in less time than it takes to get connected to a HMRC customer service advisor. But not everyone is comfortable submitting their details through the Internet. Others don’t even know how to find the Internet, let alone the government’s page dedicated to online tax credit renewal.

To combat the “exceptionally busy time of the year for HMRC“, the government begins sending out renewal packs in April and continue all the way through June. But being only human, many people leave it until the last minute, even if their circumstances haven’t changed.

Changes in circumstance now less taxing to submit

And that seems to be at the heart of the problem. Until now, the online portal hasn’t been as flexible as speaking to an adviser to inform them of changes in your circumstance, such as:

  • new job/working hours;
  • household income increasing/decreasing;
  • the ever-increasing cost of childcare (if it changes by more than £10/week);
  • marital/relationship status;
  • deaths, births, home leavers and those going into full-time care.

Those using both the online system and those contacting by phone or post should have seen a vast improvement this year. In the run-up to the deadline, the government announced a £45M additional investment in the service that HMRC provides.

According to Lin Homer, HMRC’s CEO, the department has appointed 5,000 more staff to bolster the service’s customer support. 2,000 of those the department is dedicating to Tax Credits during the seasonal rush.

Anything’s better than last year

The sum may or may not have formed part of the government’s investment plans. But for the millions of people struggling to get through to The Revenue (the department failed to answer 2.4M calls in September alone), that the government has apologised for last year’s debacle and is actively seeking ways to prevent a repeat performance will be music to their ears.

Last year, 455,000 didn’t renew their tax credits by the deadline. It will be of extreme interest to see if the government’s put the taxpayers’ £45M to good use and reduced the figure this year. Expect the government or ONS to publish that tally within the week.

If you’ve struggled this year, we’d love to hear what it was that let the taxman down. Unanswered calls? Staff not up to speed with the specifics, especially those self-employed? The waters can get murky there during the early years when self-assessment submissions are few and far between.

Technical failure under the weight of response on the government site? Wrong type of snow on the line or leaves on the track?

Whatever it is that grinds your gears, feel free to drop a comment, here. It’s not too taxing to submit your opinion and, yes, you will get the credit. Unlike those who’ve missed the deadline again this year…

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