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HMRC launches digital personal tax accounts

HM Revenue & Customs has gone live with online personal tax accounts and has published a detailed plan on how to “make tax digital”

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has launched online personal tax accounts under plans to make the organisation “one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world”.

The move means UK taxpayers can manage their tax affairs online and the online personal tax account (PTA) aims to provide a “joined-up view” of taxes and benefits, says HMRC.

Customers will also be able to update their tax details in real time, and by 2020 they will be able to see their “complete financial picture in their digital account”, it adds.

Ruth Owen, director general of personal tax, said the PTA will be developed further to become the “one place to go for all our customers to do business with HMRC”.

“The launch of PTAs is a ground-breaking development for HMRC and our customers,” she said. “Remember when you started banking online? Well, this is the equivalent shift in service for the majority of our customers wanting to do business with us online.”

HMRC has also published its Making tax digital plan, which sets out its vision of digital transformation, which it says will be achieved by 2020 when the department will have moved to a “fully digital tax system where bureaucratic form-filling is eradicated”.

“By April 2016, every individual and small business will have access to a digital tax account,” it said. “The digital accounts will present individual taxpayers with a personalised picture of their tax affairs, along with prompts, advice and support through webchat and secure messaging.”

HMRC envisions that, over the next five years, digital tax accounts will “bring about the end of the tax return” as the public will be able to access and update their tax information at any time.

The system will also send out messages to tell users when tax payments are due, and HMRC will use its PAYE information, together with data from third parties, to ensure that tax due from people’s other incomes does not build up.

In last month’s spending review, chancellor George Osborne announced a £1.3bn investment in the digital tax accounts project. The government estimates that the move to digital will deliver an additional £1bn of tax revenue by 2020-21.

However, the project has been labelled “high-risk” by the Office for Budget Responsibility because of uncertainties in “behavioural response and operational delivery”.

Last year, HMRC launched its digital strategy, in which it committed to making personal tax accounts digital. ..................................................................

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