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New HMRC online services go live

April 2, 2015

 

HMRC has launched three new ‘exemplar’ online services for taxpayers: Your Tax Account, Digital Self Assessment and PAYE for Employees.  Writing in a blog on Gov.UK, head of the Government Digital Service Mike Bracken said that these services are part of a fundamental shift in the way that government digital services are provided, as each service is interconnected and supported by the Government’s digital tax platform, allowing data to be shared more easily between HMRC and taxpayers. 

Your Tax Account allows small and medium-sized businesses to file returns like VAT and Corporation tax online from one place.  A dashboard showing tax liabilities and also any amounts owed to the company along with the deadlines for payments will be available, so that all tax information pertaining to the company is visible in one place.  SMEs will also be able to make payments to HMRC from within this service; Bracken likens it to “paying your gas or electricity bill”, and says that the service “will save time and money for millions of small business owners across the UK.”

The Digital Self Assessment service allows individuals to file their tax information online, and has been used by 1.2 million people so far.  The system will confirm a user’s identity using an email address and then will communicate with them by email, reducing the need for paper correspondence.  Commenting on the service, AccountingWEB editor John Stokdyk speculated that the Digital Self Assessment service could provide “the basis of the personal tax account”, allowing each taxpayer to see exactly what they owe and what they have paid, but as yet HMRC have not provided information on this.  All of these services rely on Gov.UK Verify, the new identity assurance system, to ascertain a taxpayer’s identity before they can access or send information about any taxes. 

PAYE for employees is designed to make it easier for employees to tell HMRC about changes to their circumstances which could affect their tax code.  Currently however, it appears that the service only supports changes to information regarding company cars so will be of limited use to the majority of PAYE taxpayers.  This is somewhat disappointing given the current degree of error in the tax codes issued by HMRC, as reported by payroll expert Kate Upcraft, among others, and it remains to be seen how and when HMRC will expand the functionality of this service.

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