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HMRC app and texting service improve access to tax information

The official HMRC app was launched several years ago, but the revamped version launched in 2022 has been gaining popularity as a particularly helpful resource for self-assessment taxpayers.

On top of encouraging taxpayers to use the app, HMRC
is also trialling a text messaging service to help people who contact them by mobile phone to find relevant information online.

Here’s a summary of how the app and text message service work, and a reminder of what you can do to avoid being caught out by scammers pretending to be HMRC.

How to use the HMRC app

To set up the HMRC app on your smart device, you must first download it from the App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android. Apple users have given the app an average rating of 4.5/5 stars, while Android users rate it 4.7/5 stars.

Once you’ve followed the instructions to download and set up the app, you’ll need to sign in using your existing Government Gateway ID and password. If you don’t already have an account, you can register to create one. After this first log-in, you can set up fingerprint or facial recognition or a six-digit PIN, so you can log in faster next time.

Any time you access the app, you can use it to check important tax details, including:

  • Your tax code, National Insurance number, or Unique Taxpayer Reference number
  • Records of your income and benefits, including Tax Credits
  • Estimates of taxes due, including Self-Assessment payments

The app allows you to update your address, report changes, and claim refunds for overpaid tax. There is also an in-app tax calculator that you can use to work out your take-home pay after National Insurance contributions and Income Tax deductions.

New HMRC texting service

In January 2023, HMRC launched the trial version of its new SMS/text message service. It’s designed to redirect individuals who call the helpline about routine matters to digital services that could provide the relevant guidance, rather than waiting to be put through to an adviser.

Some callers will be offered the choice between holding for an adviser, which could take a while, or receiving a text message with information that matches the key words used to describe their tax query. If the caller opts to receive the text, the call will be disconnected after this is confirmed.

The technology may automatically send a text and disconnect the call without the option to hold for an adviser if it’s considered a routine query, such as:

  • Finding your National Insurance number or Unique Taxpayer Reference number
  • Registering for HMRC online services or recovering forgotten log-in details
  • Requesting income and employment records
  • Asking for help with filing tax returns
    (including Self-Assessment)

The message received may point the caller to guidance published on the government website (gov.uk) or to alternative contact information for the appropriate HMRC department. If the caller finds this insufficient and wants to call back, they must use different wording for their query.

Be wary of HMRC scammers

The app and messaging service are part of HMRC’s efforts to reduce customer service backlogs by directing routine queries to secure sources of information. Unfortunately, the news that HMRC is sending official text messages may encourage criminals to conduct phishing scams, pretending to be the tax agency in order to steal sensitive information or money.

You should always remember that messages from HMRC
will never ask you to provide personal details or financial information, nor will they include phone numbers or links to non-government websites (other than their official survey platform). Check the HMRC scam guide if you’re unsure, and report any scams that you identify to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk before deleting them.

If your tax affairs are too complex to manage individually through the app, or you’re concerned about getting stuck in a text message loop instead of being able to speak to an adviser, you might prefer to hire a tax consultant. Contact GBAC, accountants in Barnsley, today to learn more about our tax consultancy
and HMRC enquiry