The following was published in mid-December 2019:
HMRC have launched an online forum where individuals, businesses and employers can post questions on a range of tax topics for HMRC to answer. This additional way of contacting HMRC is welcome, particularly in the run up to the Self Assessment deadline where people may be grappling with their tax return. This article gives some guidance on how to use the service.
Anyone can access the ‘Customers Forum’. There are many different ‘rooms’ available – including ones on Self Assessment, Income From Property, and Expenses. To post a question, simply register and create a profile – see this guidance document on how to register for this new service.
There’s also a separate feature, the Knowledge Base, which contains answers to frequently asked questions on a variety of topics and where you can find information on a number of subjects to help you with your tax affairs. HMRC say that content is regularly updated and new material added.
You may find posting a question in the forum much easier and more convenient than other ways of contacting HMRC, such as phoning them or using their webchat service.
However, a few words of warning:
The responses given by HMRC in the forums may not be comprehensive. It is important to understand that tax law is a complicated area. If you are unsure at all about your situation, you should seek further clarification or ensure you take proper advice based on your circumstances, rather than acting (or failing to act) based on any of HMRC's answers.
This is a ‘community’ forum – mostly HMRC post answers but it is possible for anyone to do this. As such, you need to be cautious - you could be easily misled by well-meaning but incorrect information posted by another user.
Just as it is important ALWAYS to write down the details of a phone call with HMRC, you should keep a copy of your Q and A in case it disappears from the forum. You could take a screenshot if necessary – ‘Prt Sc’ (Print Screen) allows you to take a picture of your full screen and then paste it into a Word document for your records. Alternatively you could just print the page with the question and answer on your printer, if you have one. In terms of taking a print screen on your mobile, this will vary depending on the type of phone that you have. You could try pressing the power and volume-down buttons at the same time, or if you have an iPhone or your device has a home button, try the power and home buttons together. You should then be able to access the screenshot from your photo gallery.
We are interested in your experience of using these new facilities. If you would like to share this with us, please contact us.