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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Communications: Use of telephones: points to remember when answering the telephone

You should answer the phone to external callers by saying, ‘Revenue and Customs, Inheritance Tax. You should also state your name. The caller will then know they are through to the right number.

You must make sure you follow the process (IHTM02041) to confirm the identity of the caller before continuing with a telephone call unless the call fits one of the exceptions (IHTM02044) to the rule.

Once you are satisfied about the identity of the caller you should be careful to apply the general rule on disclosure (IHTM02031) to make sure you do not give them any information they are not entitled to.

If you do not have the file or the paperwork you need to answer the query, you should take a note of

  • the file reference
  • the deceased’s name
  • the nature of the enquiry
  • the caller’s name and telephone number and a note of times when it is convenient to call back.

Do not promise to call back at a certain time, especially on behalf of a colleague. It may not be possible to obtain the file or your colleague may not be available. Just tell the caller that someone will call back as soon as possible.

Always remain polite and even tempered even if the caller is angry. On the rare occasion that the caller is so abusive or so unreasonable as to make progress impossible either politely terminate the call or ask your Manager to take over. If you need to terminate the call you should say that this is what you are doing before you hang up.

As our customers may wish to phone you, you must always put your full name and extension on all outgoing correspondence. This will avoid delays and confusion with incoming calls.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) IHTM02199(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)