HMRC update – software, Child Benefit and more

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VAT-registered businesses must use compatible software; Claiming Child Benefit made easier for new parents.


Continuing to support customers to interact digitally 

We’re expanding our SMS service trial which has been developed to direct customers to online services, where queries can be resolved quickly and easily without waiting to speak to anyone.  

The initial trial found 38.7% of callers who received a text message about our quicker digital services, left the call without needing to call us back within seven days.

From 4 May we will be expanding the trial for the following queries:

  • proof of entitlement document for Child Benefit 
  • voluntary National Insurance Contributions and checking National Insurance record 
  • applying, amending, or cancelling Marriage Allowance claims  
  • checking for receipt of a voluntary National Insurance payment 
  • chasing HMRC for when a reply is expected
  • register as an employer. 

We’ll continue to automatically redirect these routine queries:

  • finding your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number 
  • registering for HMRC online services 
  • lost or forgotten online service password or user ID.

We’ll also add more routine queries that will be redirected to online services automatically:

  • claiming tax credits (while signposting to benefit entitlements information as this has been replaced by Universal Credits)
  • state pension forecasts (a service provided by DWP, but HMRC often receives calls about it)
  • register as a company 
  • register as a contractor  
  • check my payroll payment history or what I owe/my balance
  • find my lost or forgotten sub-contractor UTR
  • verify a subcontractor.

New services will be added from now on. You can find details on which services are using the SMS service at:

Your clients and members can check if a text message you’ve received from HMRC is genuine on GOV.UK.

VAT-registered businesses must use compatible software for tax returns from mid-May

All VAT-registered businesses are required to keep digital VAT records and submit their tax returns to us using Making Tax Digital (MTD) compatible software, unless they are exempt.  

This will now apply to those who have previously filed their VAT returns annually using their VAT online account, as they will no longer be able to use the online service from 15 May.

Businesses won’t be able to file their VAT return via any other system, and they could receive a penalty if they don’t file on time via compatible software.

Businesses that are already exempt from filing VAT Returns online or are subject to an insolvency procedure are automatically exempt.

Your clients and members can find further information about compatible software and how to submit VAT Returns, and check if they can apply for an exemption on GOV.UK. 

Claiming Child Benefit is now quicker and easier for new parents

From this week, parents can claim Child Benefit online as the service is added to GOV.UK, and most should then receive payment in days rather than weeks.

The new service means the majority of parents can claim Child Benefit, or add an additional child, at a time that suits them – online now by logging in through their Government Gateway account, and in the HMRC app in the coming weeks. Following a successful pilot with new parents, we’re now rolling this out to anyone making a claim, and will continue to test and learn as the service develops.

Parents can claim as much as £1,248 a year for one child, which could add up to almost £20,000 by the time they’re 16. They could also receive nearly £827 a year for any other children they have. A straightforward claim (for example where a child is under six months old) will be processed quicker than before, and first payments could reach customers’ bank accounts in as little as three working days. Previously, all claims started online needed to be printed off and posted, which meant a longer wait for payment.

Claiming Child Benefit online is just one example of where we’re improving our digital services to make things simpler and quicker for customers. They can also see recent child benefit payments, proof of their claim, and update their bank details instantly online or in the HMRC app, without needing to call us.

We’ll be continuing to develop this service to provide the best possible experience, based on feedback.

Advance Valuation Ruling Service (AVRS) now available

Traders can now get legal certainty on their chosen valuation method for imported goods, for a period of three years.  

We understand that customs valuations are complicated, and we are introducing this new service to make things simpler.    

Traders do not have to use this service but it will help to facilitate trade by providing certainty on the correct method of customs valuation.  

Traders can apply for an Advance Valuation Ruling on GOV.UK. When signing up they will need a Government Gateway ID and EORI number.

Please share this information with your clients and constituents to make them aware of this new support service.


HMRC prepares to send 1.5 million tax credits renewal packs

We will be issuing annual tax credits renewal packs for the 2023 to 2024 tax year to customers between 2 May and 15 June 2023. There are two types of renewal packs.

Renewal packs:

  1. if it has a red line across the first page and says ‘reply now’, customers will need to confirm their circumstances to renew their tax credits
  2. if it has a black line across the first page and says ‘check now’, customers will need to check that their details are correct. If they are, they do not need to do anything, and their tax credits will be automatically renewed.

Tax credits customers will need to respond by 31 July to confirm their circumstances for the 2023 to 2024 tax year, or risk having their payments stopped. We are reminding customers to wait until 15 June before contacting us if they haven’t received their pack.

Your clients and members can renew and manage their Tax Credits on GOV.UK or by using the HMRC app. We have published a ‘How do I use the HMRC app to manage my tax credits’ on YouTube.

By the end of 2024, tax credits will be replaced by Universal Credit. Customers who receive tax credits will receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) telling them when to claim Universal Credit. It is important that customers claim by the deadline shown in the letter to continue receiving financial support as their tax credits will end even if they decide not to claim Universal Credit.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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