HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been strongly criticised over recent years for tax code problems, poor service and a failure to modernise the tax system in the UK.
Now, however, HMRC is attempting to drag the tax system into the 21st century by launching a consultation on the online elements of its modernisation. HMRC wants to improve the personal tax system by improving access to information online and to make some of the online functions more straightforward and user-friendly.
Keep reading to learn more about what is planned and how it could affect you.
Three main improvements suggested in consultation paper
HMRC’s new consultation document was published in November 2011. The Guardian reports that the paper ‘is part of the effort to create a simpler and more transparent personal tax and welfare system’.
The new online tax functions are being designed in line with a new real time information system at HMRC which will also be used for the new ‘universal credits’ system being considered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The consultation paper is seeking public feedback on three main areas:
- Self assessment – pre-completing tax returns for self assessment. The consultation asks what the most important areas are to pre-fill and whether there would be any benefits and risks to this system
- Introducing ‘online accounts’ for individual Pay as you Earn (PAYE) taxpayers. This is designed to improve a person’s understanding of how their income is taxed but there are concerns about how many people would use such a system
- Pre-completed tax statements for those who do not submit a self assessment tax return. The consultation wants to know whether these would be useful and, if so, what information should be included
Exchequer secretary David Gauke told the Guardian: “We plan to lift the lid on tax so that people understand how much they are paying, what their overall tax rate is, and what they should be paying, in the same way that the government has lifted the lid on what they are paying for.”
The consultation will remain open until 24 February 2012.
Would you use an online tax system? Would it be helpful for part of your Self Assessment to be pre-completed? Let us know in the comments below.