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What do accountants for contractors think about online self-assessment filing?

What do accountants for contractors think about online self-assessment filing?

The National Audit Office has praised HMRC for persuading people to file their tax returns online, but says it is not clear whether the system provides value for money.

The NAO says that more than 11.5 million people a year now use online filing. However, some users have complained about access to HMRC’s website at busy times and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group is calling on the Revenue to offer other alternatives to people who do not have Internet access.

Online filing has reduced processing costs, as well as postal, stationery and storage costs. Cumulative savings by the end of this financial year are expected to be £220 million and the drive to persuade people to file online is on time and within budget.

However, the NAO says HMRC is not able to draw a comparison between the costs of paper and online filing. It is therefore impossible to conclude that the benefits of online filing are being maximised and the system has been successful in delivering value for money.

Robin Williamson from the LITRG said that it should not be made mandatory to use the Internet to conduct dealings with HMRC and robust, well-advertised options must be made available to people who cannot transact online.

It’s both reasonable and sensible to encourage businesses to use digital channels to communicate with the Revenue but the government department should not forget that some individuals do not have access to the Internet or the capability to cope with online filing, he added.

Some professional organisations have also questioned whether it is cost effective to file corporation tax and VAT returns online.

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Image: On by Guillermо

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