STEP attended a meeting held by HMRC on 11 October to obtain feedback on its plan to make tax returns reportable on a quarterly basis, and completely digital.
HMRC’s stated objective is to improve the level of service for the public, reduce the cost to the taxpayer, and increase the revenue’s compliance and accuracy.
It says the new system will be the most digitally advanced in the world, and will enable a user to check their PAYE status, their State Pension forecast and any tax credits or allowances.
Apparently there are already close to seven million UK personal users, and HMRC is streaming webinars for basic users, as well as more complex tax users such as unincorporated businesses and landlords.
However, we learned during the meeting that many users with more convoluted businesses and multiple income streams, such as farmers, may find the new system challenging.
Although it seems unimaginable that someone would want to submit their tax return on their smart phone, HMRC points out the software will be mobile friendly, for those who do not have access to a computer or a laptop.
STEP has already flagged that the new system may not be accessible to less capable users, including elderly, or digitally excluded and vulnerable people.
Many may be unable to afford the extra burden of professional advice, a computer, laptop or smart phone, or indeed, the software required to comply.
HMRC recognises that there may be some transitional costs and potential cyber security risks, but believes customers will be pleased with the ‘real time’ system to keep taxes up to date, and notes there will be fewer inaccurate calculations.
HMRC’s webpage hosts a collection of consultation papers for all individual and business customers, agents, software developers, employers and all other organisations that need to provide tax information.
If you would like to provide feedback, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org by 3 November.