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HMRC shows ‘scant regard’ for those unable to file online, says CIOT

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‘Very mixed’ messages about ‘Digital by Default’ seem to be coming from HMRC, according to the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

‘We think HMRC are going further than the Cabinet Office guidelines,’ the CIOT said in response to the recent consultation. ‘Those guidelines make it very clear that “every single government service must be available to everyone – no matter if they are online or not”.

‘HMRC do seem to be heading for 100% on line with scant regard for those unable to use online systems, or unable to use them practically because of poor broadband.’

The CIOT said it would ‘echo and emphasise’ the comments of its Low Incomes Tax Reform Group: ‘Whilst encouraging those that can to use digital channels, HMRC must not hide the existence of a continued paper option, nor force people to accept assistance or to use an intermediary service which is more onerous than the online service.’

Responding to consultation ‘moving VAT online’, the CIOT said compulsory online filing did not ‘fit comfortably’ with the new government principle of digital by default, under which ‘no one will be left behind’.

The ICAEW Tax Faculty said it strongly opposed ‘any attempts to make any more tax filing with HMRC compulsory, either by businesses or by individual taxpayers during the next five years’.

Systems must be allowed time to settle down, the Faculty said. ‘IT providers must be allowed time to establish good reliable and comprehensive packages and the public must be allowed time to become more confident with digital channels, before anything further is mandated.’