It can be a real pain for individuals to file tax returns. Collecting all the receipts and payments received accumulated across the year and ensuring everything is correct is a long and tedious task. Fortunately, the UK government has taken steps forward to trying to make it easier than ever. By 2020 the vast majority of individuals won’t need to file a tax return with the introduction of digital tax accounts.
From early 2016, small businesses and self-employed workers should have access to their own digital tax account. This signals an intention of bring tax returns into the modern age, as well as a commitment to reducing the burden placed upon citizens. In the future, HMRC should be able to make more efficient use of the data they receive, resulting in less work to be carried out by users.
What is changing?
Imagine the new tax system is similar to how online banking works. You will be able to see your information as well as easily update it, as well as see a detailed view of how your tax was calculated. For companies who pay several different types of tax like PAYE and corporation, they will be able to see a total liability figure also.
It is expected these changes will result in lower queries needing to be handled over the phone, with more users benefiting from online support.
Some changes are also planned for the future, and will not be in effect immediately. For example, over time the service should evolve to allow individuals to see how much National Insurance they have contributed including the effect on their state pension.
Currently, there is a lot of duplicate information required to be submitted to HMRC which the organisation already knows. This could be declaring your savings income, or perhaps even a pension. All these are taken into account when tax is calculated, but in the future, this information will only have to be submitted once.
Small businesses will also benefit greatly as the platform should allow for accounting software integration. While this has a target introduction date of 2020, when it materialises, businesses can feed information straight into their digital tax account from their software to calculate taxes.
Some users are concerned that they are being forgotten about with the introduction of an online tax system. While the majority of users will find it simpler, there are many people who do not have internet access or understand computers. Those in this scenario have no need to worry, as all traditional methods of filing and contact will still be available.
In short, the government has set clear objectives in what they wish to be achieved from the changeover. Firstly, to provide individuals with a service where they can manage their information online in a secure place. Furthermore, to allow users to pay tax without needing to give HMRC information they can already access. On top of this, allowing tax affairs to be dealt with minimal hassle and efficiency, as well as to benefit citizens with personalised support. Finally, the last objective set out to be achieved is the access of more government services mentioned above.
Some experts are calling this the biggest tax process shake up seen in the modern era. As well as one that has been a long time coming, It certainly appears to be a move in a positive direction, and should allow users a greater degree of flexibility and freedom when it comes to their taxes. If you don’t file your own taxes, there’s no need to worry, as the government intend to allow you to designate an authorised agent to act on your behalf if you so wish.