Skip to main content

Digital Self Assessment: a better service for agents

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: General, News and Updates


What is Digital Self Assessment?

Even though nearly 85 per cent of Self Assessment (SA) customers file returns online, we still send out 44 million letters a year. HMRC’s new Digital SA service will replace these letters with digital alerts on email, signposting new online information. This means customers will get information faster - and it will be easier to understand, as it ties in with new guides and tools on GOV.UK.

As part of the new service, we launched a pilot to test the new ‘opt in’ process with around 500 individual customers on 10 February. We asked them to opt into digital alerts when they were ready, and sent them an email verifying their address was correct.  We will gradually increase the number of customers using this service.

 Agents and third party software

We’re hoping that agents will be able to use digital messaging by the end of 2014-15.

Unlike most individual customers, the majority of paid agents use third party software to file their clients’ returns. This means they are less likely to read digital messages on our website. We are working with third party software providers to ensure agents can view HMRC online messages through their products.

We’re also considering ways to incorporate client payment and liability data into third party software, so agents can see all their client information in one place. We’ve already discussed these ideas with software developers and the response was very positive. We had a similar response from agent representatives, who are particularly keen on the idea of digital messaging.

Your views can help us

We’re working on more ideas for digital services for agents:

  •  Agent alerts for all SA digital information that goes to clients

Currently agents only receive copies of a subset of client letters. Access to additional messages could give greater certainty about what is happening with their clients - and allow agents to respond more effectively, particularly if there are time-specific issues to resolve.

  •  Allowing agents to ‘opt in’ to the new service on their clients’ behalf

This will switch off paper letters for an agent’s client and could help agents to prioritise what the client needs to deal with.

It would extremely useful to hear your views on these – or any other thoughts you may have on how to improve digital messaging for agents with SA clients. Please leave a comment on this blog if you have anything you’d like to share with us.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Rehan Khan posted on

    A number of firms, like us, are already paper-less and will therefore welcome not having to scan the incoming letters. However, it will be very useful to have an agreed taxonomy for the file/ letter naming convention - e.g. accountant's file ref, UTR, tax year(s), case number showing both the case reference and the sequentially increasing with each HMRC correspondence. This will help both HMRC and the agents automatically file and track the correspondence.

  2. Comment by Aileen Proudfoot posted on

    I hope that any correspondence will be properly referenced for the agent. The current PAYE and RTI emails are a disaster. If you act for more than one client, you often have to search several different sites before finding to whom the message related. And you're always left wondering if your found the correct message. All correspondence to agents should show CLEARLY the name of the client concerned.

  3. Comment by Andrew Richardson posted on

    It was always going to come, similar to many organisations HMRC are phasing out sending letters, (some say in 20 years time no one will send letters, bad news for Royal Mail investors). Its obviously a cost cutting measure but that's what computerised systems are sold on.

    I am not very computer literate and can just use the HMRC on line filing software, I assume this new service will be just good enough and nothing more, I like getting a reminder when Accounts are due to be filed, even if they have been filed a month or so prior, though this can confuse clients.