New normal for the ADL from 1 February
We outline the service that will be available on the Agent Dedicated Line (ADL) from 1 February – and some ongoing restrictions on progress chasing.
Agents looking forward to the end of restrictions on the ADL after 31 January may be disappointed that HMRC has announced that some services will continue to be restricted on an ongoing basis. However, these restrictions will largely relate to early progress chasing, so should not affect complex and urgent queries.
Restrictions up to 31 January
The service provided on the ADL was initially restricted to calls about self-assessment filing, payments or repayments from 11 December – but from 22 December additional restrictions were put in place, with any progress chasing queries for self-assessment repayments redirected to online tools. Restrictions were expected to end after 31 January.
Webchat services will continue to be available
HMRC has confirmed that webchat services for the ADL will continue to be available for both self-assessment and PAYE queries from 1 February. HMRC’s announcement noted that around 15,000 agents per month have been using HMRC webchat services.
HMRC’s self-assessment ADL webchat will focus on all self-assessment topics in line with how it was working in December. Agents will be able to access the service via HMRC’s digital assistant – according to HMRC, this is currently dealing with around 40% of all self-assessment queries without the need to transfer to an adviser. If you are an agent with complex or urgent self-assessment queries and you need to speak to an adviser, you will still be able to call the ADL, selecting option 1 from the menu.
The PAYE webchat service will focus on repayment queries and can be accessed through the PAYE digital assistant. Agents with PAYE coding queries or complex PAYE queries will also still be able to call the ADL, selecting option 2 from the menu.
Ongoing restrictions: progress chasing
HMRC states that the majority of repayments are being made well within its service level agreements. However, more than a third of calls to the ADL are from repayment agents progress chasing self-assessment, PAYE or payment protection insurance tax relief repayments, often within a few weeks of claims being submitted and sometimes in large quantities. This means that advisers cannot help agents with more complex or urgent enquiries.
From 1 February, all agents who wish to progress chase repayments should consult the ‘Where’s my reply tool’ before contacting HMRC. HMRC define progressing chasing as contacting them specifically to find out when the repayment claim is likely to be processed or paid.
If the estimated date for processing shown by ‘Where’s my reply’ has not passed, ADL advisers will not deal with the query. If the date has passed, you will be able to contact the ADL to check the status of the claim.
Additionally, from 1 February, if an agent wishes to progress chase a PAYE repayment once the date on ‘Where’s my reply’ has passed, this must be done using the PAYE webchat service only, where HMRC says it will be able to provide dedicated and expert support.
For self-assessment repayments, if a repayment has been selected for security checks, HMRC may also ask you to wait a further 12 weeks before contacting it again to allow time for those checks to take place.
Digital options for agents
Prior to the December restrictions, HMRC had already made changes to the ADL (from 2 October), including removing the 10 minute service level. Agents generally prefer to use online services, rather than waiting on helplines, so it was helpful that HMRC indicated that it was looking at some possible improvements to digital options for agents.
Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org which digital services for agents you would like to see improved, or any new digital options you think should be put in place.
Let us know your views
ICAS responds to many tax calls for evidence and consultations, as well as producing tax policy papers and reports. We also regularly attend meetings with HMRC at which service levels, delays and other issues are discussed, and we raise problems being encountered by members. We welcome input from members to inform our work; email email@example.com to share your insights and feedback.