Taxes

What's the HMRC Phone Number?

Andre Spiteri

Updated: 1 November 2018Sometimes it can’t be helped. No matter how careful you were with your tax matters, you run into issues. Which means you’ll have to call HMRC to sort it out. We can’t help with the waiting around to be connected (or promise you’ll enjoy the hold music). That said, we’ve put together this handy guide on getting in touch with HMRC. Read on for a rundown of the most important HMRC phone numbers, information on the best call times and the lowdown on HMRC scam phone calls.

How do I find the right HMRC phone number?

HMRC doesn’t have one general phone number. The number you’ll need to call will depend on the nature of your query. Opening hours also vary slightly from one department to the next.

When's the best time to call HMRC?

According to research by PfP, the best times to call HMRC are:

  • Between 8:30 am and 9:30 am
  • Between 12:00 pm and 12:30 pm

At the other end of the spectrum, PfP found that the worst possible time to call is between 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm. Call during this time, and you can expect to be on hold for at least 12 minutes.HMRC is infamous for its long waiting times. A 2016 Parliamentary Report found taxpayers collectively spent four million hours waiting for someone to pick up the phone during the 2015/16 tax year. That’s a lot of bad hold music to have to listen to, right?

Luckily, things seem to have improved since then. Following the report, HMRC hired 800 new staff and managed to bring the average waiting time down to just under four minutes. In 2017, the National Audit Office confirmed HMRC was handling calls about three times faster than they did in 2016. Whew!But if you’d rather not risk it (and you can’t call between 8:30 am to 9:30 am), don’t worry. There are other ways you can have a chat with HMRC in real time.

What other ways can I speak to someone at HMRC in real time?

HMRC has a Twitter account that's active Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.However, they'll only answer general queries. If you want to discuss specifics, you'll have to call them up on the phone.You may also be able to connect via their web chat service. To do this, log on to HMRC's contact page and click on the department you'd like to connect with.

What information do I need to have?

When you phone HMRC, the customer service representative will usually ask for some information to confirm your identity. So, make sure you have it handy.Here's what you may need:

  • Your National Insurance Number
  • If you're calling about a self assessment query, your Unique Taxpayer Reference Number (UTR). HMRC will assign a UTR when you register as a sole trader
  • If you're calling as an employer, your employer reference number
  • Your VAT registration number, if applicable

Does HMRC call you?

Yes. HMRC might call you. But only in very specific circumstances.Unfortunately, there’s recently been an increase in phone scams, in which someone pretending to be from HMRC asks for money or financial details.

HMRC has stressed repeatedly that it “...will never notify you of a tax rebate, offer you repayment, or ask you to disclose personal or financial details by email or by text, and we recommend that if you cannot verify the identity of a caller that you do not speak to them.“For this reason, you should treat unexpected phone calls from HMRC with the utmost suspicion.

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How to spot HMRC phone scams

First things first. HMRC’s website has a continually updated list of the reasons why they would contact you. If someone calls you from ‘HMRC’ for a reason not listed on the website, there’s a good chance that it might be a scam.As things stand, HMRC will call you only:

  • To arrange a compliance check if you’re a mid-sized business, charity or public body.
  • For research purposes. And, in these cases, they’ll get in touch via email, SMS or mail beforehand to let you know.

You should treat any other calls with suspicion.Most often, the scammer will call through a spoofed 0300 phone number, to make it look like they’re actually from HMRC. They’ll scare you into giving out your credit card details over the phone by saying you need to pay back taxes within a very short time or face a heavy fine.

They may also ask you to pay the bogus debt with an iTunes, Argos or other store gift card. This should be a huge red flag. HMRC would never accept payment in Argos gift cards.Another scam involves leaving a text or voicemail message asking you to call a number urgently or risk getting sued.Needless to say, you should never pay out money or give out your financial details unless you’re absolutely sure of the caller’s identity. It’s a good idea to ask as many questions as you can think of. Scammers don’t like resistance, so it’s likely they’ll just hang up if they think you’re onto them.

What about other types of HMRC scams?

Sadly, phone calls aren’t the only HMRC scams around. Scammers often also try their luck by sending out bogus emails.Here’s what you should look out for:

Check the sender’s email address

Many scammers will send emails from an address that is similar to an HMRC email address. For example, it might be @hmrc.org.uk or @gov.net instead of @gov.uk. Some scammers may also be able to generate an @gov.uk email address. However, if you hover over it, you’ll often notice that it redirects to a different address.HMRC has a list of known scam email addresses.Not sure whether an email from HMRC is genuine? Don’t risk it. Forward it to HMRC’s phishing team on phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and they’ll confirm whether it’s genuine or not.

Urgency

Being told you should pay up within 24 hours or risk getting slapped with a heavy fine? Does the email start with ‘urgent action required’? Or maybe it’s got lots of exclamation marks?

It’s the oldest trick in the book. Scammers make it sound like you need to deal with an issue urgently to make you panic. The idea is to put you in a situation where you don’t have time to think things through.Don’t fall for it. Keep your cool.

Watch out for generic greetings

Any correspondence from HMRC will address you by name and include a unique reference number. Emails that start with generic greetings such as ‘Dear Taxpayer’ or, even worse, ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ are best moved to the trash bin.While we’re at it, dodgy grammar, misspelt words or misplaced punctuation are also tell-tale signs that an email is a scam.

How do I report fraud?

If you think that someone scammed you, you should call the Police’s National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Centre on 0300 123 2040. Or, if you’re in immediate danger, call 999.HMRC also has a fraud hotline. The number is 0800 788 887, and it’s open from 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week, all year round.You can use this number to make an anonymous report if you:

  • Suspect someone isn’t telling HMRC about all the tax they owe
  • Know of a business that’s hiding its income by dealing in cash and not issuing invoices
  • Think someone is hiding money abroad illegally
  • Suspect some other kind of tax fraud, such as National Insurance fraud or failure to pay import duties