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The time to tinker has passed by Paul Gough

Self Assessment Tax Returns

George Osborne’s Budget announced his five year plans to phase out Self Assessment Tax Returns for individuals and replace them with a single digital tax account. Sounds like simplification at its best! I am delighted that the Chancellor is content to expect taxpayers to embrace responsibility for a role currently performed by professional advisers.

To desire the accurate collation of information about income and allowances applicable to individuals in a central, secure, digital account is not without merit. But is it realistic? Are we more likely to get this from HMRC or the tooth fairy assisted by the Easter bunny?

I delight in the thought of banks and investment houses automatically disclosing interest and dividend income from an ‘electronic tax voucher’ linked to the digital tax account of taxpayers. I can even imagine a time when employers accurately return earnings figures (under RTI style reporting), into a system under the control of HMRC that is ready in time to meet the reporting dates and successfully ‘does what it says on the tin’.

In the unlikely future event that workers are allowed to claim tax relief on any expenses they incur in travelling to or from a place of work, or in the performance of their duty, then I’m sure that it’s possible this suite of simplifications can be combined in an unambiguous easy to use, infallible Government system. It would be a new system without uncertainty; a system of clarity and precision; one that is equitable to all and truly does ‘level the playing field’. But is this probable?

Am I merely being a Luddite with no ability to clearly see the future? Looking back over the last few years I can see a host of employment status related legislation that does not fill me with confidence. Failed attempts at simplification which make me think that whatever the Chancellor dreams of, tax advisers will continue to be very busy as they help prepare and submit personal tax information for others.

Tell the office no holidays …… I suspect the same is true for HMRC.


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.