Revenue and Customs: Telephone Services

Treasury written question – answered on 15th March 2019.

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Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the HMRC's helpline established to help advise people affected by the introduction of the loan charge.

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has put in place a specific helpline for those who have used disguised remuneration (DR) schemes. Individuals and companies can use this helpline to discuss their avoidance scheme use, and options around reaching a settlement with HMRC. Call handlers are trained to support all customers, including those who might be vulnerable. They will suggest customers seek more specialised help in appropriate cases. HMRC increased resources on the helpline in September 2018 to handle the additional calls. The effectiveness of the helpline is kept under regular review by HMRC. Since November 2018, HMRC has answered around 13,000 calls with an average speed of answer of less than 60 seconds.

DR schemes are contrived arrangements that pay loans in place of ordinary remuneration, with the sole purpose of avoiding income tax and National Insurance contributions.

The charge on DR loans is expected to raise £3.2bn for the exchequer. The majority, 75%, is expected to come from employers rather than individuals.

The best option for those individuals who are worried about the introduction of the charge on Disguised Remuneration loans is to come forward and speak to HMRC as soon as possible. They will work with all individuals to reach a manageable and sustainable payment plan wherever possible.

HMRC has put special arrangements in place so that they are able to agree a payment plan of up to five years automatically for those with income below £50,000 and seven years for those with income below £30,000 where those scheme users are no longer engaging in tax avoidance. HMRC may be able to offer a longer payment plan for those that need more than five or seven years or with income over £50,000, where further information is provided.

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