https://hmrcdigital.blog.gov.uk/2014/07/07/digital-self-assessment-update-2/

Digital self assessment update

Changed the law

As Shaun’s blog post described, we’ve made changes to the law relating to the information that we send to customers. Previously HMRC were legally required to send certain messages by paper but we can now send them electronically.

Working with legacy systems

During the week commencing 16 June we achieved a huge milestone: the new digital tax platform can now control which letters are sent to SA customers. This means that when we want to stop sending letters to customers we no longer have to make changes to our existing IT systems. The existing IT system is over 40 years old so this removes a huge barrier to us making changes to the service.

Moving into public beta

Following our service standard assessment by the Government Digital Service in March, we moved the service into public beta. During the public beta we’re inviting customers to try out digital SA and the tax account when they log onto the old website. To control the number of new users we’re initially only switching the invite on for a few hours a week. This is because we want to learn how customers are using the service so that we can further improve it in advance of going live to a much wider group of people. We’re so far achieving 83% user satisfaction which is a good start.

Throughout the private and public beta stages we’ve made quite a few changes to the service. For example, we discovered that not all customers were properly reading the information on the sign-up page before opting into digital alerts. So we have made the wording clearer and included a new step which requires customers to answer yes or no to receiving email alerts on the sign in page, before providing their email address. We are finding that this has made it much easier for people to understand what exactly they are opting in for. Also, for people who choose not to immediately sign up for email alerts we’ve made it easier to do so by putting a clearly visible link on the main homepage. We've also improved the way we are telling customers that their emails are bouncing or they haven’t verified their email address by using a new banner on the homepage.

Sending digital alerts

We’ve stopped 195 paper statements and replaced them with digital alerts in the last couple of weeks. This, in combination with user research, has provided us with valuable insights into how we can best build a digital service which no longer requires us to send out customer letters. The focus of the team at the moment is on building this service. More updates soon!

4 comments

  1. Anita Monteith

    The HMRC what's new page announced on 9 July that this service was now live. Your comment above says it is only switched on for a few hours a week, but I have already been trying to test it for an hour this morning and could find no trace of it having logged in to my account on the old site. Is this because I am not in one of the lucky switched on times? If so, please can you either say when these are or else keep it on as this is a very frustrating waste of time. Thank you.

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    • Toby Smith

      Sorry you weren't able to test the service when you wanted to Anita. The advert is presently just showing to users who only do their SA tax online (i.e. not users who also do VAT, etc). If you're in that category the advert is now switched on permanently - so you'll see it if you log in now. However, as it's a beta we're keeping an eye on how the service, the support model, etc are performing; so we may switch the advert off again if we're not happy with something.

      If you do other taxes online you won't be able to trial the service just yet - we'll be making that possible over the next couple of months.

      Thanks for the feedback on the 'what's new' page - I'll look into making it more helpful.

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  2. Tina Riches

    Will my tax adviser agent also get an email and be able to access this information? And will it say who it is in respect of and what it is about? At the moment I can forward onto him all mail from HMRC, but what will happen once it's digital? It is important that he is in the loop. Please confirm before I try to sign up.

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    • Toby Smith

      You opting in to the service won't change what your agent receives - they'll continue to get letters just like they do at present. For the future we want agents to be able to choose to receive the information digitally too. I hope that helps.

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