Corporate report

HMRC’s principles of support for customers who need extra help

Updated 17 July 2023

We are committed to providing tailored support at the earliest opportunity for customers who may need extra help. This is also in line with our legal responsibilities under the Equality Act, to provide reasonable adjustments to ensure no one is disadvantaged.

Help for customers contacting us by telephone or post

We will monitor calls and correspondence with HMRC to identify customers who may need extra help. This could include difficulties caused by their confidence, access, emotional state, mental health, capability, difficulties in understanding what they need to do, and disability. We will also ask customers to tell us if they need extra support.

Our advisers will then transfer calls to our Extra Support Team who have appropriate skills, knowledge and empathy to provide support and reasonable adjustments to meet customers’ needs. They will also provide single points of contact to resolve difficult queries.

We will also tell customers about Voluntary and Community Sector organisations who can provide specialist support and advice for a range of non-tax issues and personal circumstances, such as:

  • mental health or learning difficulties
  • low income, financial or domestic abuse
  • age-related difficulties
  • support for migrants and carers

Tax charities will be able to provide independent advice to support customers with their tax and benefit affairs.

Help with digital services and other ways to deal with us

HMRC will develop accessible digital services and provide support for all customers who need help to communicate with us digitally. We also want to offer alternatives for people who cannot communicate with us online, where this is appropriate. This includes:

  • support from advisers to help customers set up and use their digital accounts, or help to complete paper returns

  • the Trusted Helper service, which enables customers to ask family or friends to represent them and talk to HMRC on their behalf

  • support from tax charities

HMRC is working with third party software providers to support the development of accessible software, setting conditions for engagement through our digital platform, which include:

  • compliance with the Equality Act 2010
  • meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - WCAG 2.1 to the AA standard

Compliance, debt and tribunal support

We know that compliance checks and legal proceedings can be stressful. This is particularly so for customers in vulnerable circumstances who do not have someone qualified helping them.

Where there are particular needs that customers make us aware of – we will communicate with them empathetically and take account of those needs and their situation.

We will:

  • support all customers who have any difficulties during an investigation explaining issues in a clear and empathetic way and setting out options for the way forward throughout the whole process
  • work to resolve issues without the need to go to tribunal
  • tell customers about independent support and advice
  • work empathetically with anyone facing financial difficulties to agree affordable payment arrangements - if a customer’s circumstances change (including after agreeing a payment arrangement) we are always willing to work with them and provide support, recognising that additional needs can arise at any stage of the process

Read more about how HMRC treats customers who have a tax debt.

Helping customers find extra support

Our guidance, communications and letters to customers will signpost the extra support HMRC provides.

We have detailed guidance on how to get help from HMRC if you need extra support which covers the range of help that we can provide if, for example:

  • you have dyslexia, autism or cognitive difficulties
  • you have reduced mobility or physical disabilities
  • you have sensory disabilities, like a visual, hearing or speech impairment
  • you have mental health conditions, like depression, stress or anxiety
  • you’re experiencing financial hardship - for example you cannot afford essentials like food, bills or rent
  • you’re a victim of domestic abuse, including economic abuse
  • you’re in hospital

Please note that support available is not limited to those examples.

The guidance covers the different ways to contact HMRC if you need:

You can also contact HMRC if you need help with specific queries.