What is HMRC?

What exactly is ‘HMRC’? In fact, what does that even stand for?!

Ever found yourself feeling a little unsure during conversations about tax?

This is a brief introduction about HMRC, AKA the Tax Office, and some of its most commonly used terms.

What does HMRC stand for?

HMRC stands for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Revenue means income and Customs means tax. It is a government department and has the responsibility for raising income for the UK through taxation. People often use ‘the tax office’ or ‘the tax man’ when referring to HMRC.

How do I contact HMRC?

There are many different departments within HMRC meaning there is different contact information depending on the department you need and the nature of  your enquiry.

To alleviate pressure on their overworked staff and for the convenience of the public, HMRC now have many of their services online.

We have listed the contact information below for many of the most popular departments:

HMRC general income tax (including PAYE tax rebate) enquiries:

HMRC phone number 0300 200 3300 and web address.

HMRC tax credits enquiries:

HMRC tax credits phone number 0345 300 3900 and web address.

HMRC child benefit enquiries:

HMRC child benefit phone number 0300 200 3100 and web address.

HMRC national insurance enquiries:

HMRC national insurance phone number 0300 200 3500 and web address.

HMRC VAT enquiries:

HMRC VAT phone number 0300 200 3700 and web address.

HMRC all other enquiries:

HMRC provides a contact list of all other departments here.

HMRC history

It used to be two separate departments called the ‘Inland Revenue’ and ‘Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise’ which were unified in 2005 to create ‘Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’.

What does HMRC do exactly?

It has assorted responsibilities that will touch your own financial situation in some way during your life. Firstly, HMRC administers the payment of Child Benefit, Tax Credits and some other entitlements. It also implements the minimum wage.

Secondly, it gathers our National Insurance Contributions from tax payers. This payment is not defined as a tax and is specifically to pay for unemployment, sickness and disability benefits and pensions.

Thirdly, and most famously, HMRC collects our income tax payments. The tax system in the UK is complicated, with a variety of different types of tax governed by a host of complex regulations. This is what HMRC has the authority to collect:

  • V.A.T. – this stands for Value Added Tax and is the tax sellers pay on most services and goods. The standard rate for VAT is 20% of the cost of the item and this is passed on to the consumer in the price. Charities, books, children’s clothes and some other goods and services do not pay VAT. If you are self employed and need to be VAT registered you can find out more in our VAT flat rate scheme guide.
  • Income Tax – this is a tax on any money you earn in the UK, including; wages, rental income and pensions. It is earmarked to pay for services we get from the government such as education and transport. You can find out more about income tax and if you are owed an income tax rebate in our income tax guide section.
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (to give it its full title!) – if you buy any property or land which costs more than £125,000 you will have to pay this tax. This is for both leasehold and freehold and the amount you owe increases with the price of the property. This ranges from 7% on properties or land worth over £2,000,000 down to 1% on values of £125,001 to £250,000 on a sliding scale. First time buyers benefit from being free of Stamp Duty Land Tax on any property or land worth up to £250,000.
  • Capital Gains Tax – If you sell anything worth over £6,000, including shares, insurance pay-outs or property, then you have to pay Capital Gains Tax on any profit you make. This does not include your car or your home.
  • Corporation Tax – Limited companies and some other organisations have to pay Corporation Tax on any profits they make.
  • Inheritance Tax – If you are an executor for someone’s will then you are responsible for ensuring that Inheritance Tax is paid on the deceased’s estate. ‘Estate’ in this circumstance doesn’t just mean property and land, but also any money or possessions left by the person who has died. This tax only has to be paid on estates worth over a certain amount.
  • Excise Duties – this tax exists partially to tackle issues of public order, general public health or the environment and partially to simply raise income for the government. For example the extra tax we pay on cigarettes, alcohol and petrol.

What to do if you think HMRC owes you a tax rebate

HMRC has the responsibility to return any tax overpayments to the taxpayer. They also need to work out and collect any tax underpayments.

If you think you have overpaid tax you should contact the correct HMRC department via their online portal, by phone or post. The type of tax rebate you are owed will determine how you are paid and the process to reclaim your overpayment.


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