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HMRC inspired by online banking to make tax returns a breeze

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has claimed it wants tax returns to be as easy as online banking as it makes the transition to Digital by Default.

The Department is one at the heart of the government’s Digital Transformation – four of its core services are being redeveloped as “exemplar”: PAYE online, paperless self-assessment, tax for my business and agent online self-serve.

In providing digital first services, HMRC is hoping to reduce its spending by 22 per cent over the next two years and they received £200m in funding to reach technological goals.

“There’s a lot we could still work on to be more digital,” claimed chief digital and information officer at the Department, Mark Dearnley.

Speaking at the Public Sector Show 2014 earlier this week, he supported this claim by revealing his organisation sends 240 million letters a year. According to Dearnley, HMRC is aiming to build an online tax account that is as “easy to use” as an online or mobile banking app.

“There is no reason why over time we can’t provide the same level of service you get from your online bank now,” he said.

Digital means paperless

Just as the NHS is attempting to embrace the digital age by going completely paperless by 2018, HMRC too wants to rethink its use of paper.

“[The Department] has designed for 50 years for people to fill in forms and send them to us, we need to go back and fundamentally reform that process as if paper never existed,” Dearnley said.

The digital chief also mentioned that going digital would greatly enhance customer service, noting that it takes 15 days to respond to a letter, but 15 seconds to respond to something online.