HM Revenue & Customs receives record number of digital self assessments

This year saw the largest recorded number of digital self assessment registrations, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) received a record number of digital self-assessment registrations this year, as more people filed their tax returns on time than ever, with 85.5% of returns filed online.

HMRC’s director general of personal tax, Ruth Owen, said: "This is another record-breaking year for self assessment, with 210,000 more people filing their returns on time than last year.”

A large number of people left their returns until the last minute, with 42% filing in January 2015. The most popular days for completing the self-assessment were 30 and 31 January 2015. HMRC received a total of 10.24 million tax returns by midnight on 31 January 2015.

But the busiest hour for filing came in the afternoon of the day before deadline day, when HMRC received almost 50,000 digital returns.

The end of the self assessment period saw over half a million self assessment customers opt out of paper communications in favour of electronic updates.

Government identity scheme

Earlier in January 2015 it was announced that HMRC would be trialling the government’s Verify identity assurance scheme for a limited period of time during its busiest month of the year, and plans to re-open Verify to self-assessment users fully from mid-February. Verify was originally trialled by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) in October 2014. It was implemented to make it easier to prove users' identities when using public services online.

HMRC originally looked into improving its digital offering in the middle of 2014 when Mark Dearnley, chief digital and information officer at HMRC , claimed the department still sends out 240 million letters per year and prints 343 million forms and guidance notes.

Dearnley claimed: “There is no reason why – over time – we can’t provide the same level of service you get from your online bank now.”

In 2013 HMRC's digital services received £200m of government investment in a move expected to save £51m year on administrative costs, with the hope the investment will enable two million people to carry out transactions online by 2015-16.

This initiative began the following year when HMRC launched a digital strategy to create personalised online tax accounts for taxpayers and businesses in the next four years.

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