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.