Taxman cans paper self assessment forms

HMRC is to stop automatically sending taxpayers paper self assessment forms except for exempt individuals who cannot file digitally

Only 700,000 taxpayers filed paper returns in tax year 2018-19, but last autumn HMRC automatically sent out more than 500,000 forms, while 10.4m taxpayers filed self assessment online.

The tax office has decided to scrap the automatic send out to try and encourage the 700,000 to submit their returns online as HMRC recently saw a 110% increase in people registering to communicate digitally.

An HMRC spokesperson told Accountancy Daily: ‘The new measures will encourage customers to use our online services as the issuing of paper returns is no longer automatic.

‘Taxpayers can still choose to file on paper but this change means they will be more likely to file online if they are able to.’

At the same time, from April HMRC will no longer send out three million blank P45s and 11m P60s to employers in a move to reduce print and postage costs.

From April, instead of automatically receiving a paper return, taxpayers who have filed on paper in the past will now receive a short notice in the post.

If they still wish to file on paper they can download a blank version of the return or call HMRC to request one.

The notice to file will tell taxpayers that HMRC intends to communicate with them digitally and provide them with information about managing their tax affairs through their personal tax accounts.

When taxpayers go to their personal tax account online HMRC will request their agreement to communicate digitally by default and, if they consent, then subsequent communication including statutory notices, such as penalties, will be issued digitally.

Where HMRC can identify taxpayers whose personal circumstances mean they cannot file online, they will continue to receive a blank paper return.

This would apply to taxpayers who have tax affairs that are too complex to be processed by the online system, ie, ministers of religion, but ultimately it would be decided on a case by case basis.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general for customer services said: ‘Most taxpayers manage their tax affairs online. People can also sign up for email alerts and online messaging.’

Last year 22m PAYE taxpayers were sent tax summaries to show how much tax was paid and how it was spent.

MacDonald added: ‘We are working hard to stop the use of unnecessary resources which have an environmental impact; that’s why we are reducing the use of paper as much as possible.

‘Digitisation remains an HMRC priority but we are still committed to giving taxpayers the ability to choose what’s best for them, so those who want to file a paper return can still do so.’

958,000 taxpayers miss self assessment deadline

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