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HMRC changes its website

March 8, 2013

A new centralised government website, which will include HMRC’s own website, is being rolled out as part of the Cabinet Office’s drive to ‘digitise’ government. The move to the new ‘Inside Government’ website on the GOV.UK domain, which began at the start of March, will include 13 other government departments and agencies as well as HMRC. The Cabinet Office intention is to locate all government websites in one place.

The launch of 'Inside Government' will supersede the old HM Revenue & Customs site, Directgov and Businesslink among others.

Calum Fuller from Accountancy Age, commented that “On an aesthetic level, the site appears sleeker, easier on the eye - using pictures for the first time - and highlighting new stories and updates much more strongly than before. On that level, it's a far cry from the clunky, dull site that previously existed.”

Robin Riley, HMRC's head of digital engagement hailed the "dramatic" difference between the two sites and notes that the site is now "cross-linked to overall government policy”, reported Accountancy Age.

However, the roll out has not been without issue with users complaining technical details appeared to be located in the wrong areas of the site, which on occasion requested users to supply wrong information.

It appears that in the course of integrating content from HMRC’s original site with the new, changes have occurred either accidentally or to ensure the content fits the new website’s presentational requirements. Accountancy Age, said “The crux of the problem for many users [is] that much of the site's content has been re-written in order to fit into a sleeker, more simple theme - which in the complicated and vitally important world of tax many feel is likely to introduce inaccuracies”.

The change has raised the wider issue of the wisdom of making such an important change to the old HMRC website and its importance as a vital technical resource to tax professionals at a time of very significant technological change for HMRC, with the introduction of the real-time reporting of PAYE. HMRC’s introduction of Real Time Information Reporting of PAYE represents the largest change HMRC has ever made to its dealings with employers and taxpayers since PAYE launched in 1944.

Accountancy Age, commented on the changes, “Embarking on two major upheavals simultaneously is, at the very least, a bold move - and one which could not only define the taxman's 2013, but years to come, too.”

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