Just weeks after announcing downloadable self-assessment returns would no longer be available online, HMRC has backtracked its decision.
Originally, the Government planned to take the option of physical self-assessment forms off the online portal, meaning taxpayers would have to call a dedicated line to request one.
At the end of March 2023, HMRC contacted almost 135,000 people who file paper tax returns to tell them downloadable self-assessments would no longer be available. The move was an attempt to push more people to file their returns digitally.
In reaction to the announcement, professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales argued against the change in a bid to reverse HMRC’s decision.
Following this feedback, the forms will remain available for download from the Government website.
As well as self-assessment tax returns, HMRC will be moving the following forms to digital by default:
- SA316 Notice to file
- SA300 Statement of account
- SA250 Welcome letter
- SA251 Exit letter
- R002 Repayment notification
- CT603 Postal notice to deliver a company tax return
- P2 Employee coding notice
- P800 Tax calculation.
Recent reports from HMRC show that even though it had planned to require taxpayers to call for a paper return, its average phone waiting times increased to 10 minutes in February 2023, while over a third of calls were unanswered.
In the same month, HMRC received 3,229,945 calls, up 20% compared with 2.68m calls in February 2022, despite the tax authority’s attempts to encourage people to use online services and webchat to resolve queries.
Glenn Collins, head of technical and strategic engagement at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), said:
“It would be good to see a long-term action plan, but in the short term, the Government does have an urgent duty not to make a bad situation even worse.”
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