HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has started testing a digital alerts service for customers of its online tax self-assessment system.
The service is the latest of the government’s 25 digital exemplars to go into private beta testing.
HMRC announced in a blog post that digital correspondence for self-assessment customers has begun trials with 500 users.
Self assessment (SA) is one way HRMC collects taxes from customers. The blog post said that while 85% of the 11 million SA customers file tax returns online, HMRC still sends out 44 million letters a year, costing the taxpayer money.
HRMC said it will first replace the letters with digital alerts – emails – which ask customers to view new information online.
The private beta pilot with 500 users will test the opt-in process for customers choosing whether or not to receive digital alerts and asking them to verify their email address.
“We have deliberately designed our beta testing so we start with a small group of customers to make sure the service is working correctly and use any feedback from them to further improve it,” said HMRC on its blog.
“This new way of testing is a really positive change for HMRC and moves away from the ‘Big Bang’ approach of former government IT projects. We will gradually increase the number of customers using the service.”
The 25 services – ranging from visa applications to benefit claims to booking prison visits – were identified as “exemplars” that would be the first to be redeveloped under the “digital by default” plan to put more public services online.