HMRC reveals intentions to stop automatically sending paper Self-Assessment returns

17 March 2020

As part of its plan to stop the unnecessary use of paper, HMRC has announced that Self-Assessment customers should no longer expect to receive automatic paper returns in the future.

The blank copies will no longer be distributed automatically, in a bid to encourage customers to make use of the online services that are available to them, and to engage with HMRC digitally. It has already been confirmed that last year, a staggering 94% of HMRC’s customers filed their return online, and there was recently a 110% increase in the number of customers registering to communicate digitally.

From April, taxpayers can still opt to file a paper return if they wish, but they will be encouraged to file online if they are able to do so. The environmentally friendly measure will mean that, instead of receiving a paper return automatically, taxpayers will receive a short notice to file. The notice will inform taxpayers that HMRC intends to communicate with them digitally and provide them with information regarding the management of their tax affairs through their Personal Tax Accounts. If taxpayers still want to file on paper, the blank version of the return will be available for download, or they can contact HMRC to obtain one.

When individuals access their Personal Tax Account online, HMRC will request their agreement to communicate digitally by default and, providing their consent, all further communication, including any statutory notices, will be provided digitally. In circumstances where HMRC has identified that there are taxpayers who cannot file online for any reason, these individuals will continue to receive blank paper returns.

HMRC’s director general for customer services, Angela MacDonald, commented:

“Most customers manage their tax affairs online. It’s easy, secure and available 24 hours a day. Customers can also sign up for email alerts and online messaging. It doesn’t even have to be done all in one go – they can stop, save what they’ve done, and pick up where they left off later.

 We are working hard to stop the use of unnecessary resources which have an environmental impact; that’s why we’re reducing the use of paper as much as possible.

 Digitisation remains an HMRC priority but we’re still committed to giving taxpayers the ability to choose what’s best for them, so those who want to file a paper return can still do so.”

The latest announcement follows on from other HMRC measures that are being implemented to reduce the unnecessary use of paper, by withdrawing P60 and P45 stationery. Currently, HMRC issues over three million blank P45s and 11 million P60s but most free and commercial payroll software can produce P45s and P60s, and a lot of employers already use this. Annual Tax Summaries will also move to taxpayers’ Personal Tax Accounts.


Information provided in this news article may be subject to change. Please make note of the date of publication to ensure that you are viewing up to date information.