HMRC are working with Amazon to push forward with their ‘making tax digital’ plan. Now, taxpayers can use an echo device to get information about HMRC’s Tax Credit procedure. This was done specifically to make the process of renewal easier.

It is important to note that you can’t actually renew via this new technology option, but can get high caliber answers to any of your questions. So, if you’ve left it until the deadline – today – to renew, Alexa can’t do that for you. But it can check out any last details you need.

It has been designed as an alternative to doing an internet search or phoning HRMC’s dedicated tax credits helpline (0345 300 3900).

As HMRC’s director general for customer services, Angela MacDonald, said: “We know our customers have hectic lives – full of interruptions and distractions – which is why HMRC’s online services are available at all times of the day and night…We’ve improved our services so customers can renew their tax credits at a time that’s convenient for them.”

Who will Alexa help?

It is hoped that this has helped over three million customers with their questions about renewal of their tax credits. Although it was only released on the 10th July and the deadline for renewing tax credits is today, 31st July.

How does it work?

After asking Alexa to “open HMRC”, you can access information about renewals, payment procedures and what to do if your circumstances have changed. You are unable to actually renew your tax credits using Alexa because no personal information is stored in your echo device.

Does HMRC have an app I can download?

Yes, there is an HMRC app for smartphones that is available on the Google Play store and the App store. You can do more with the app than you can through Alexa – such as renewing your tax credits. This is proving to be an increasingly popular way to deal with HMRC. In 2017, 38,411 customers renewed their tax credits using the HMRC app. 65,000 people have done so this year.

It is also possible to check your tax credits payments schedule and find out your total earnings for the year using the HMRC app.

How else can I get in touch with HMRC?

There are several ways to get information about your tax affairs, not just tax credits, and contact HMRC:

  • Online: go to GOV.UK and log into your tax account. You can check that your tax credit renewal is being processed and find out when you’re likely to get a reply from HMRC
  • Twitter: @HMRCcustomers
  • Tax Credits helpline: 0345 300 3900
  • Text message: if you ask for HMRC to reply by SMS, your number is automatically deleted after six hours
  • HMRC’s webchat service
  • Using HMRC’s Amazon Alexa service
  • Online forum: ‘Tax Credits and You’
  • HMRC’s facebook page
  • HMRC App

Maybe we will be able to command Alexa to do more of our tax work for us in the future. For now, it’s good to know there’s another way to get crucial information.