Anything you read about tax will inevitably include references to HMRC. Most people writing about tax assume that their readers already have all the insider knowledge and vocabulary they need. At Tax Banana, we don’t assume that people already know things, we make sure that we give complete explanations that include all the necessary information. So let’s start with HMRC, you’ll be hearing a lot about them.

But what does HMRC stand for?

HMRC stands for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, aka the Tax Office. This used to be two separate government departments, the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise. They were amalgamated in 2005 under their new name, which incorporates elements of both.

What does HMRC do?

This is the government department responsible for administering our entire tax system. It’s a massive remit, involving tax collection and issuing tax refunds and some benefits.

Do HMRC collect all taxes?

HMRC are responsible for collecting a wide variety of different taxes that apply to employed, self-employed, individuals and businesses. These include:

Within HMRC there is a department tasked with each of these areas, which often subdivide even further.

HMRC do not collect Council Tax, that is administered by your local authority.

Do HMRC sort out Tax Refunds?

There are many different reasons why UK taxpayers might be entitled to a partial refund of their tax payments. HMRC deal with all of the regulations surrounding this complex area. This involves assessing each tax rebate submission individually and ensuring that the business or individual has the correct evidence to allow their claim. They also calculate the exact amount you are due back and process the cheque accordingly. These rules apply to anyone who has paid UK income tax, even if you now live in another country.

Benefits and HMRC

HMRC are involved with our Benefits system. They collect National Insurance Contributions from self employed and employed taxpayers to provide their specific benefits and state pensions. HMRC also pays out things like child benefit and tax credits.

How do I contact HMRC?

HMRC’s Contact Page on their website has helpline numbers for specific areas of tax and a ‘general enquiries’ if you’re not sure who you need to speak to. They received a lot of negative press for long phone queues and people being cut off before answering. This has improved, but call waiting times fluctuate during the year, usually around particular deadline times.

There is a massive push for HMRC to become as digital as possible and they are increasing the number of tax issues that you can deal with online. This should streamline the system and make HMRC more accessible to the general taxpaying public.

Note of warning: be very aware that scam HMRC emails, texts and phone calls regularly do the rounds. HMRC never ask for your personal or financial details by email. If in doubt, note the details of the suspicious communication and phone a legitimate HMRC number to resolve the issue.