Digital self assessment update

What is Self Assessment?

Self Assessment is one of the way that HMRC collects taxes from customers. We have nearly 11 million Self Assessment (SA) customers who range from self employed builders to religious ministers and charities.

What is Digital Self Assessment?

Even though nearly 85% of SA customers file online returns we still send out 44 million letters a year. As well as costing the taxpayer lots of money our research shows this doesn't meet the needs of many customers.

Our first step is therefore to replace the letters with digital alerts (sending emails asking customers to view new information online). This means that information will get to customers quicker - not becoming out of date whilst the letter is in the post - and be easier to understand by closely tying in with new guides and tools on GOV.UK. Our research shows customers think this meets their needs better. We recently consulted on the proposals, which received widespread support.

We've launched a private beta!

Last Monday was a big milestone for the team: we launched a private beta (or pilot) of part of our service for around 500 customers. The private beta tests the ‘opt in’ process - asking a customer to opt into digital alerts from when they’re ready and sending them an email to verify their address is correct. We have deliberately designed our beta testing so we start with a small group of customers to make sure the service is working correctly and use any feedback from them to further improve it. This new way of testing is a really positive change for HMRC and moves away from the ‘Big Bang’ approach of former Government IT projects. We will gradually increase the number of customers using the service.

The reason we’re building the opt in first is that most SA online customers only log in once a year; we would rather start sending them improved digital alerts as soon as possible, rather than potentially waiting up to a year to let them log in again.

What's next?

Over the next few months we’ll ramp up the number of customers who can opt in and launch a private beta for the new digital alerts that replace letters.

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  1. Comment by Toby Smith posted on

    Thanks for your comment. HMRC is committed to keeping customers as secure as possible online so is putting a number of additional intelligent security measures in place to ensure customers can stay safer online, as well as enabling us to close online threats quickly where they occur.

    HMRC will be extending these security controls across all our digital services, which will make it even harder for a spam email to look as though it comes from HMRC.

    In addition, HMRC will continue to make our customers aware of what kinds of things HMRC will and won’t do over email through both our website ( and through external messaging (

    We are also working with our partners to tackle brand abuse and phishing as part of HM Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy, and supporting cross-government initiatives such as Cyber streetwise ( and Get Safe Online (

  2. Comment by S posted on

    How will consumers be able to distinguish genuine electronic communications from HMRC from the numerous phishing scams etc that frequently clog-up inboxes?

    Isn't there a danger that more people will fall victim to such schemes if HMRC undertakes to perform more electronic communications?