By Daniel Hunter

With the deadline next month, ICAEW has reminded customers that they can renew their tax credits online rather than risk delays and poor performance from HMRC contact centres.

The deadline for renewing your tax credits is 31 July, and for the first time this year, almost everyone will be able to renew online. The process gives HMRC the information to finalise tax credit awards for last year, and renews the claim for the current year, 2015/16. However ICAEW has had reports that claimants seeking to renew are having difficulty getting through to HMRC on the Tax Credits Helpline.

Anita Monteith, ICAEW Tax Manager, said: “Tax credits are vital to many households across the country, and it is imperative that people renew before the 31 July deadline. However, with a month to go, we have heard many worrying stories from people trying to contact HMRC by phone — and it will get worse as the deadline approaches.

“Our own survey work with ICAEW Chartered Accountants has shown that even if you manage to get through on the telephone HMRC struggles to get things right first time. However, renewing online is simple, and should not take long. Anyone who needs to renew their tax credits should try and do so online, and save themselves the stress and anxiety of trying to get through on the phone.

“HMRC currently lacks the resource to manage an increase in call volumes effectively, so we are likely to see call waiting times skyrocket during this busy time. We’d recommend that anyone who does need to speak to HMRC on the telephone about their tax credit renewal should try calling between 8am and 10am on weekdays when the lines tend to be less busy.”

ICAEW also advises that those renewing, whether online or over the phone, should have key documents relating to income such as payslips or business accounts, as well as childcare costs incurred, to hand, and the renewal pack itself. Records should be kept for at least three years.