Tax Credits: Contacting HMRC about tax credits

This section of the site gives you information about the different ways of contacting HMRC about tax credits. It also gives information about security procedures in place when contacting the tax credits helpline. 

Contacting HMRC

Telephone

The main telephone number is the tax credit helpline: 0345 300 3900 (textphone 0345 300 3909). From abroad, you can ring +44 2890 538 192. The helpline is open 8am-8pm, Mondays to Fridays, 8am-4pm on Saturdays and 9am -5pm on Sundays  (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day).

The telephone line is very busy and HMRC say the best times to call are between 8.30 am and 10.30 am and 2pm to 4pm, Tuesdays to Thursdays.

HMRC use an automated response system to direct callers to the helpline (sometimes referred to as ITA). This is designed to help direct callers to relevant information on the GOV.UK website, provide basic generic messages which may help answer some queries and direct the call to an adviser who can help with the call query. The system relies on speech recognition and LITRG have produced a helpful guide to offer some useful hints and tips on using this system (please note the e-mail options to notify changes of name/address are not currently relevant for tax credits).

From January 2017, some callers to the helpline will be able to sign-up for Voice ID. The claimant will be required to say a phrase five times to register for the service and when they call in future, they can be verified based on their voice. See our blog post for further information.

This number can be used to: 

Advisers who are from registered organisations can use the intermediaries helpline as an alternative to the helpline for a similar range of issues. More information can be found in our intermediaries section.

Tax credit digital services

HMRC are gradually introducing changes which are line with the Government’s drive for increased digital services.

HMRC are developing an on-line service called the Personal Tax Account for all individuals to be able to transact with them digitally. The personal tax account covers a variety of services provided right across HMRC lines of business, covering income tax, tax payments, self-assessment returns and it also includes the tax credit on-line service. The tax credit on-line service is called ‘Manage your tax credits’ and can be accessed either directly from Manage your tax credits, or via the personal tax account by following the links to the tax credit part of the personal tax account.

Claimants can manage their tax credits online through GOV.UK www.gov.uk/manage-your-tax-credits. Here they can report most changes of circumstances, find out how much their next payment will be and when it's due, and complete their renewal after they receive their renewal pack.

To use this service, tax credit claimants need to register with the Government Gateway service. Claimants can use their existing account if they already use Government Gateway for self-assessment, others will need to set up a Government Gateway account. Each time a person uses their Government Gateway account, they will need to have a mobile phone or landline telephone nearby to receive a unique 6-digit code which will be sent automatically to them as they ‘log-in’. The service is accessed via GOV.UK.

This service is available via the GOV.UK website. It offers people the chance to chat to an HMRC adviser via the website, either on general matters or specific to a tax credit award.

Webchat can be accessed via the GOV.UK contact page. Also where a person is using the ‘Manage your tax credits’ service, and so has been through security steps, webchat is also available to deal with matters specific to their claim. An option to use the webchat service will automatically appear after a short while.

Webchat is generally available, although not 24 hours a day and is reliant on HMRC advisers being available.

The HMRC App is available for people who have a compatible smart phone (android and I-phone). It is free to download from the ‘app store’ and provides a variety of digital services across HMRC lines of business. Tax credit claimants can check the amount and due date of their next payment using the App, and they can notify most changes of circumstances and complete their tax credit renewals.

Claimants can use fingerprint identification available on certain devices to enable them to access the App. HMRC does not receive or have access to any fingerprint data, the app makes use of features that are built into the user’s handset.

By post

New claims should be sent to:

HMRC - Tax Credit Office
Liverpool
L75 1AZ

Renewal forms should be sent to:

HMRC - Tax Credit Office
Comben House
Farriers Way
Netherton
L75 1AX

Claimants can report changes via the tax credit helpline (details above). Changes can also be reported in writing to:

Change of circumstances
HMRC - Tax Credit Office
BX9 1ER

More information about reporting changes can be found in our how to notify changes section.

Disputes can be sent in writing to the following address marked for the attention of the ‘dispute team’ or ‘complaints team’.

Tax Credit Office
Preston
PR1 4AT

Complaints
HMRC - Tax Credit Office
BX9 1ER

Once a dispute or complaint is received by HMRC, a letter should be sent acknowledging receipt and giving the claimant a named caseworker and direct dial number.

(Including disputes, mandatory reconsiderations, appeals etc)

HMRC – Tax Credit Office
Preston
PR1 4AT

Face to face advice

Historically, HMRC had enquiry centres that claimants were able to visit, albeit they were advised to arrange an appointment first.

In March 2012, HMRC announced that they would replace their Enquiry Centre network with a new system of support for taxpayers and tax credits claimants who need extra help with their tax affairs. Following a pilot in the North East of England to test the new approach, which included closing several Enquiry Centres, HMRC decided that the benefits of the new service offered a better system of support for customers. The new service was rolled out across the UK at the end of May 2014, with a programme of closure seeing the remaining Enquiry Centres all closed by 30 June 2014. You can read HMRC’s briefing note on the GOV.UK website.

The service means that the telephone helplines are the initial way that customers can speak to HMRC. Customers who are identified as needing extra help (according to criteria HMRC have developed) will then be offered support best suited to them, this might still be by phone, but with a specialist telephone adviser who can deal with the queries in-depth or by arranging a set time to call or perhaps a face to face meeting with someone from HMRC at a place convenient to the customer, calling on a team of HMRC specialist mobile advisers. More information can be found here.

Claimants with disabilities may need face to face advice by way of home visit. Following the closure of HMRC enquiry centres, claimants who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment and are unable to use the telephone can use an online form to request a face to face appointment.

Claimants with disabilities

For those who have disabilities, effectively communicating with HMRC can be difficult. At present, no central computer system records special needs that a claimant might have, therefore reference should be made in all communications of any specific needs that HMRC should be aware of.

HMRC do provide special services for those with particular needs. A full list of all services is published on GOV.UK.

HMRC’s improved digital services, which are also optimised for people who use screen readers, may offer a more suitable alternative for some.

Claimants with disabilities may need face to face advice by way of home visit. Following the closure of HMRC enquiry centres, claimants who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment and are unable to use the telephone can use an online form to request a face to face appointment.

Translation services

HMRC offer translation services to those whose first language isn’t English.

According to their information:

'HMRC will allow a friend or family member to interpret for customers who don't speak English as a first language. When you contact one of HMRC's helplines they will ask you if you have a friend or family member who is willing to interpret for you and if you are happy for them to do so. This friend or family member needs to be over 16 years of age and should be with you when you call HMRC.

If you do not have or do not wish to use a friend or family member, HMRC offers a free language interpretation service. You can use this service when you telephone HMRC or when you come in to an HMRC Enquiry Centre. You can contact one of our helplines or your Tax Office and they will arrange this service, but please give them as much notice as possible.'

Useful tips when contacting HMRC

When dealing with overpayments, issues often arise about whether a claimant has reported a particular change or whether they have been given incorrect advice by HMRC. It is much easier to dispute an overpayment if the claimant has evidence of their contacts with the department. We recommend that claimants:

Security arrangements

In late 2009, HMRC introduced a new security process on the tax credit helpline called IDAS (ID Authentication Service). All claimants who contact the tax credit helpline will be asked to go through the new security. This includes people contacting the helpline to request claim forms.

How does IDAS work?

IDAS uses information held by credit reference agency Experian, combined with HMRC’s own data to verify the callers identity.

The first time a claimant calls, they will be asked whether they consent to HMRC using Experian data. HMRC will need the claimants NINO, DOB and name at this point. If the claimant agrees to this, they will be asked questions based on the Experian data. The helpline advisers cannot see a full credit report, they will be prompted by the system with only certain questions based on that credit report. Questions will be things like ‘Who is your mobile phone contract with?’.

If the claimant does not consent, or there is not enough data from Experian to generate these questions, the claimant will be asked questions based on HMRC information drawn from various sources.

Once this process has been successfully passed, the claimant will be asked to set up some shared secrets which will be used to identify them on subsequent calls. If the claimant declines to set up shared secrets they will need to go through the whole process again on their next call.

What if a claimant fails IDAS or the process cannot be completed?

Representatives from the Benefits and Credits Consultation Group (BCCG) have reported instances of claimants being told that the process cannot be completed where there is not enough data to generate the questions.

In other cases, claimants have been asked difficult questions that they have not been able to answer.

In both circumstances, the helpline will advise the claimant that they must have a face to face meeting and provide documentation to prove their identity. Only once this process has been completed will HMRC allow the claimant to transact over the phone.

The helpline should make arrangements with the Needs Enhanced Support (NES) team and the claimant should receive a call from that team within 48 hours to make an appointment and advise what documentary evidence is needed. Claimants who are requesting claim forms should get an appointment within 5 days.

If the claimant provides this documentary evidence, the NES adviser should set up the shared secrets in the same way as the helpline.

How does IDAS affect intermediaries?

Intermediaries should not be asked to go through the IDAS process. It is for claimants only. The normal security questions for intermediaries (based on the TC689) and agents (64-8) should continue to be used.

If an intermediary does not have an authority in place, but has the claimant with them, the helpline will ask the claimant to go through the IDAS process. Once the security check is passed, the claimant can ask the helpline adviser to speak directly to the intermediary.

Updated 22 March 2017