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Fully paperless Self Assessment returns loom in future

The taxman has taken the next step in achieving its ultimate goal of running before it can walk by making it impossible to submit a paper self-assessment.

Everyone loves to have a go at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Truth be told, I’m not innocent when it comes to running down the tax authority for its hare-brained schemes, but the thing is that HMRC makes itself a target as a result of its massively stupid behaviour. The newest example of this idiocy, the push towards completely paperless self assessment tax returns is getting closer to fruition thanks to a newly launched consultation proposal.

Listen, I know HMRC is keen to save as many little pennies as it can, but I don’t know if eliminating paper waste is really going to make much of a difference. Yes, without the need to send countless little bits of correspondence through the post it will be faster and more efficient, I’ll give you that – but at what price? Not every Brit is as technologically adept at even simple things like checking their e-mail. Not only that, but can’t electronic communications be intercepted? It’s hard to tamper with a letter sent by post, but something tells me that the security of the financial details of the average person submitting self-assessment return might be less secure whilst being transmitted over the world’s most diverse electronic data transfer network.

I can only hope that this push towards digital, all-online and paperless tax returns isn’t going to make it impossible to submit a tax return the old-fashioned way, if nothing else but to ensure that Brits without reliable internet access can still take care of their tax business. All too often do small minorities of the British taxpaying population fall through the cracks between the way it’s always been and new, supposedly more efficient and time-saving methods of doing things. There’s still shedloads of people around paying taxes that were born far, far before the idea of the internet was even a twinkle in the eye of the programmers and engineers that brought it to life, and to ignore these people in the name of ‘progress’ is the height of arrogance, if you ask me. So let’s just cross our fingers and hope that the taxman doesn’t end up shooting itself in the foot in its zeal to join the 21st century.

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