HMRC Digital Strategy: examining the detail

22 October 2014

 

Readers may be forgiven for not yet opening the new HMRC Digital Strategy document, but it does include some interesting insights into the future of digital interaction between HMRC and their customers.

The Strategy document which was recently published on News Online starts from the recognition that

· HMRC has high volume online transactions, but for a small number of services, while

· Few services are provided through digital channels from beginning to end.

Hardly a novel insight perhaps, but one which sets a clear implicit challenge which HMRC are keen to address through a phased programme of improving current services and introducing new ones, leading over a period of years to a major transformation in the way the Department interacts with all of its customers.

We would recommend that News Online readers find a moment to look at this document in full, and maybe to report any reactions to policy@cipp.org.uk , but a short summary of some aspects of relevance to payroll may be of interest.

The strategy reports first on plans for what it calls four exemplar services which have already been launched, including (of particular interest to payroll professionals)

· PAYE for Employees: making it easier for customers to tell HMRC about changes that affect their tax code, starting with being able to inform of changes to company car provision and car fuel benefit. This will have no impact on the employer processes; it simply enables the employee to contact HMRC directly and digitally to inform them of changes. Presumably car and car fuel were picked because statistically they represent the most common benefit and the most likely to create customer contact.

· Digital Self-Assessment: making Self-Assessment filing a completely digital process. Currently many employees, including those in certain sectors, are still obliged to file paper returns which increases the scope for delay and error.

The next phase will involve improving digital services for businesses through:

· Your Tax Account: which joins up existing online services for small business customers

· Agent Online Self-service: which makes it easier to register as an agent for HMRC services. One of the first agent services to be tested will be access to the client PAYE and Liabilities viewer, perhaps better known as the Dashboard. CIPP agent members can be involved in the early build and test process if they contact us at policy@cipp.org.uk

This strategy makes clear (in a way that the previous strategy didn’t) that it is the intention that all tax customers or rather citizens will have their own digital tax account by 2018 either directly or by assisted digital.

Finally, and looking beyond 2018, HMRC foresee the day when transformation will mean that

· Most interaction with customers will be automated through digital self-service, and

· Dealing with HMRC through personalised, multi-channel digital services is the norm for the majority of customers.