A home visit from the taxman could become a reality for some taxpayers under a new service to be piloted by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
HMRC is planning to shut down its Enquiry Centre network in 2014 and provide face-to-face support when required to an estimated 1.5 million taxpayers who need extra help with their tax affairs.
Announcing the move on 14 March, HMRC said that closing its 281 Enquiry Centres would save £13 million.
It said that customer demand at the centres had fallen from five million visitors in 2005-06 to fewer than 2.5 million in 2011-12, with some centres now open just a day a week as a result of declining demand. Of customers using an Enquiry Centre in 2012, HMRC said only 16 per cent needed a face-to-face appointment.
HMRC will begin a pilot initiative in the north-east of England from 3 June-31 October, with the Enquiry Centres at Alnwick, Bishop Auckland, Bridlington, Hexham, Darlington, Durham, Middlesbrough, Morpeth, Newcastle, Scarborough, Stockton, Sunderland and York closing as a result.
The pilot will test a new service providing mobile, one-to-one support in a range of convenient locations, including a person’s own home or business. It will also provide phone support from advisors.
If successful, HMRC will implement the new service across the UK between February and May 2014 and close the remaining Enquiry Centres. A consultation on the plans was launched on 14 March, closing on 24 May, with results to be published in July.
Lin Homer, HMRC’s chief executive, said: “This new service will enable us to tailor that help in a way that works better for customers and is more flexible and affordable than the service we currently provide.
“HMRC will provide a more modern and accessible service that will target the right support to customers who need it, where and when they want it.”