Expats with self-assessment tax return problems can put question directly to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) through a new online chat forum.
Tax experts are ready to answer general questions about income tax and completing self-assessment tax returns in the run-up to the final filing date of January 31, 2015.
The invitation to log in for a chat is open to expats as well as British based taxpayers.
The forum will be open between 9 am and 5 pm London time on eight days in January.
This is the first time HMRC has interacted live online with taxpayers.
However, the tax man has stressed that their experts will only answer general income tax and self-assessment questions and will not have access to any personal tax files.
Specific personal tax questions will be diverted to the self-assessment telephone helpline, where agents can look up HMRC records after asking security questions.
To speak to HMRC online, expats will have to register for a slot in advance or on the day.
“We expect the forum to be busy and suggest anyone wanting to talk to us live should book in advance,” said an HMRC spokesman.
The chat rooms will be open on:
- January 7, 2015
- January 9, 2015
- January 13, 2015
- January 16, 2015
- January 19, 2015
- January 22, 2015
- January 28, 2015
- January 30, 2015
Click here to go to the HMRC web site to register for the forum in advance.
The forum is a new measure in response to continuing failures to respond to taxpayers by phone or post within deadlines set by HMRC executives.
The tax authority has come under continuing criticism from accountancy professionals and taxpayers for poor customer service standards.
An in-house study looking at customer service reaction by HMRC between April and September 2014 has only reinforced frustration with the service.
Statistics revealed that 31% of post remains unanswered for more than 15 working days, compared with 23% during the same period in the previous 12 months.
HMRC explained this was due to diverting staff to other tasks, like dealing with tax credit applications.
The goal was to clear 80% of post within the 15 working day limit.
Responding to helpline phone calls also missed targets.
More than one in four telephone calls were unanswered or cut off (26%), compared with 23% a year earlier.
“‘Introducing new digital ways of working has brought some significant challenges,” said an HMRC spokesman.