HMRC - HM Revenu and Customs

Pension Reform Blocks HMRC Helpline

Recent changes to the pension rules blocked the HMRC helpline in April. One million people are believed to have called the tax office on a particular day at the beginning of April, meaning the lines were engaged throughout the day. Many people were forced to spend up to 10 minutes navigating the automated menus before being cut off because the waiting time was seen to be ‘too long’.

To save people who were inquiring about pensions from waiting in a line, a recording played to them instead directed them to the new Government helpline, Pension Wise. The reforms mean that people can now take out a lump sum for their pension rather than having several smaller payments. However, those who call Pension Wise have been left annoyed as if you wish to take out a lump sum, Pension Wise can not advise you on the amount of tax that you will pay- only HMRC can do this.

A spokesperson for HMRC said that the lines were very busy due to it being the start of a new tax year. He added that it was regrettable that customers could not be served due to the waiting times.

With the HMRC helpline, calls are automatically terminated if the machine anticipates that it will keep the taxpayer on hold for too long. In the end of the last tax year, some callers reported that they were waiting more than 45 minutes just to be connected, which would indicate that the waiting times this year are longer.

The HMRC spokesperson said that only a small number of the calls it took were about pension reforms.