Our tax records are going digital with the launch of the first batch of online personal tax accounts.
Similar to online banking, these digital accounts will allow people to see their tax details and make payments in real time. It’ll also be easier to contact HMRC through services like webchats and a virtual assistant, which will hopefully minimise issues with customer complaints.
The new service is being phased in, so that all personal taxpayers will have digital accounts by next year, as well as five million small businesses. Two million businesses already use one.
Handling tax payments digitally should, in theory, stop the build-up of overdue tax or refunds owed at the end of each financial year.
HMRC has been criticised recently for taking too long to answer the phone and advising taxpayers to contact them through Twitter instead.
HMRC wants to put all of the information it has on taxpayers into one place, including data from employers, banks, building societies and other government departments.
It’ll eventually eliminate the current annual tax return for most taxpayers.
David Gauke, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Giving customers the ability to manage their tax affairs online is our latest step towards a fully digital tax system. This government is determined to revolutionise how we deliver public services and the tax system is no exception”
New headache for landlords and the self-employed
From 2018, self-employed people and landlords will have to update HMRC every quarter if this activity is their primary source of income. Even if it’s their secondary income, so long as it is worth more than £10,000 and the main income is from employment or from a pension, they’ll also have to update quarterly.