Getting in touch: HMRC’s new email facility

Although there is no general facility to contact HMRC by email, it is slowly moving into the 21st century by providing the option to receive an email response. But of course, this comes with a few conditions.

Dealing with HMRC by post can be a slow process. With resources having been spread more thinly than ever due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, HMRC has only recently been working its way through the built-up backlog of post.

Scam risks

Scammers can use fake HMRC emails as a way of obtaining personal information, although, with improved scam email detection, they have now largely switched to text messaging. Nevertheless, HMRC points out the risks associated with using email. Their guidance raises various concerns:

  • Emails sent may be intercepted and altered.
  • Attachments could contain a virus or malicious code.

To reduce the risk, HMRC will desensitise information, by, for example, only quoting part of a unique reference number.

Confirmation

Anyone who would like to be contacted by email has to confirm to HMRC in writing by post or email that:

  • They understand and accept the risks of using email;
  • They consent to financial information being sent by email;
  • Attachments can be used; and
  • Junk mail filters are not set to reject and/or automatically delete HMRC emails.

HMRC should also be sent the names and email addresses of all people to be contacted by email, such as business owners, staff and the business’s tax agent.

Confirmation will be held on file by HMRC and will apply to future email correspondence, with the agreement reviewed at regular intervals to make sure there are no changes. The use of email can be cancelled at any time by simply letting HMRC know.

HMRC publish a list of recent emails it has sent out to help people determine if an email is genuine. This list can be found here.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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