July 05, 2013 - Rachel Miller
From 2015, the first tranche of British taxpayers will get direct access to their tax affairs via the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website. The announcement comes as HMRC's Digital Services division receives £200 million of Government investment to help make its digital ambitions a reality.
By April 2015, up to two million people will be able to take control of their tax affairs through their own online accounts. And nearly five million small businesses will also be able to interact with HMRC digitally – giving them much greater control over their tax affairs.
According to HMRC, this will reduce red tape and create a more "level playing field" by helping HMRC to identify the minority who seek to get around the rules. The new system, it says, will remove unfair competitive advantage from those who try to cheat the system.
Digital transformation is designed to enable people to spend more time developing their businesses and less on paperwork and bureaucracy. It will also ensure that more practical support and advice is delivered online.
Exchequer secretary, David Gauke, said: "We want to give people the power to manage their tax affairs online as easily as they manage their bank accounts and this investment of over £200 million will allow HMRC to deliver a digital tax service fit for the twenty-first century."
He added: "For individuals, this will mean a better understanding of what they are paying and where it is being spent. For business people, it will give the control over their tax affairs and flexibility to manage them that allows them to focus on growing the business."
Lin Homer, HMRC chief executive, said: "This investment will enable us to transform our increasingly popular digital services and build a ground-breaking digital tax service. We are committed to doing business with our customers in the way they want to do it."