https://hmrcdigital.blog.gov.uk/2014/11/12/reaching-out-to-software-developers/

Reaching out to software developers

I am absolutely thrilled to shortly be taking up a new role as Digital Service Manager for Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Third Party Software, bringing my experience in developing digital services for HMRC from as far back as 2004 – which makes me feel really old!

HMRC’s Digital Strategy sets out how HMRC will design great services for users and how it will reach digital maturity over the next few years. A big part of that journey is developing what we call “integrated” and “optimised” services. We see third party software and app developers as being a big part of that and are keen to involve them in the development of great services that support tax.

My initial focus will be to build on the great work of the Software Developer Team here in HMRC to understand the needs of software and app developers. I also want to talk to developers about what they’d like from us, how quickly they want it, and how they’d prefer to engage with HMRC.

I have a few ideas and we already have some work in train. We’re developing an API platform, for third party software and apps to send data to HMRC. I am keen that we share our APIs – we’ve got some in use and others in development. I’m sure developers will have many ideas about what HMRC apps users would find helpful, in running their businesses and dealing with their tax affairs, what should we do first, and to help us prioritise.

I don’t start work officially until 1 January 2015 but am keen to start hearing from software developers, gather views and understand how we can best keep a dialogue going – all comments welcome.

13 comments

  1. Comment by Sasha posted on

    Hi Brigid,

    The API I would personally like to see implemented is in regards to verifying National Insurance numbers. A number of the companies that we make software for employ many young people for short periods of anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. As such, it is often difficult to verify age of the employees, as many do not own a passport or driving licence. What would be great would be if an API were opened up to the public that enabled the PAYE software to gather the NI number of the prospective employee, along with their surname, date of birth, and possibly post code, and then submit that data to an HMRC endpoint that could return a success/fail response, and an array with the name, date of birth, NI number and postcode of the employee, though the array could be optional, given that the software will be submitting the same parameters.

    Thanks,

    Sasha

    • Replies to Sasha>

      Comment by Brigid McBride posted on

      Sasha
      Thanks so much for your interest and for taking the time to discuss the capabilities you'd most like to see. An NI Verification API has obvious benefits but we'd need to weigh that against any risks of compromising taxpayer data so we'll add this to our work log for further business analysis to understand the benefits and implications better. Keep the ideas coming.

  2. Comment by Paul posted on

    Hi Brigid,

    I'm particularly interested in your new APIs, which after reading other areas of this blog, look RESTFUL in nature, and examples of which can already be found in the source of existing HMRC pages.

    When do you think we might see some public exposure to these APIs for tax software developers such as myself?

    Thanks,
    Paul

  3. Comment by John Cooper posted on

    Hi Brigid, How do I get in touch with you with regards an API discussion?

    • Replies to John Cooper>

      Comment by Brigid McBride posted on

      John - we’re currently engaging with software developers through telephone interviews to help us develop our approach. Please contact SDSTeam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk if you’d like to get involved.

  4. Comment by Charles Manly posted on

    Brigid,

    How has your first month at the helm been? looking forward to forging closer links and understanding more detail of your plans and the Digital Strategy as we move into 2015.

    Regards

    Charles

    • Replies to Charles Manly>

      Comment by Brigid McBride posted on

      Charles - thanks, it's been very busy! We’re currently engaging with software developers through telephone interviews to help us develop our approach. Please contact SDSTeam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk if you’d like to get involved.

  5. Comment by Steve Checkley posted on

    Hi Brigid,

    Your appointment is very welcome news to the third party software industry. There is so much that we can do and want to do that will benefit our customers and HMRC through the use of new or improved APIs.

    As well as being a director of TaxCalc, I also represent BASDA (Business Application Software Developers Association) which is a trade body that provides representation on our common needs in the industry. I believe you've spoken at our annual summit a couple of years ago to introduce IDA and that we have met before.

    How can we make a more formal contact with you to strike up a dialogue?

    Kind regards,

    Steve Checkley
    TaxCalc

    • Replies to Steve Checkley>

      Comment by Brigid McBride posted on

      Steve - thanks. I believe we’ve spoken with you through a telephone interview with our researcher, but if there’s anything else you’d like to raise please do drop me a line at SDSTeam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

  6. Comment by Gordon Tutt - Chairman AFSS posted on

    Brigid, On behalf of AFSS members I would like to thank you for starting this 'blog' process of reaching out to software developers. Whilst most AFSS members are not directly engaged in individual tax affairs they do have an interest in changes which may impact their use of HMRC systems used in the freight and logistics industry. This seems an ideal method of communicating any changes likely to have an impact on trader systems,
    Gordon

    • Replies to Gordon Tutt - Chairman AFSS>

      Comment by Brigid McBride posted on

      Gordon, thanks for commenting. I'll be blogging again very soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to get in touch with ideas, please contact SDSTeam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. Thanks

  7. Comment by Ross Huggett posted on

    Hi Brigid, as a software engineer and a self assessment tax payer, I think that any service which allows you to continually calculate your tax throughout the financial year would be better than the burden of having to do it all in one go at the end of the tax year and avoid the potential shock of a large bill. For example, if you received some income which you knew would need to be declared, this could be entered via a mobile app at the time you received it. This would call an API exposed by you guys giving you an estimated tax bill at the end of the financial year. The HMRC app feels limited to me, simply wrapping you existing site. Most mobile SDK's can offer so much more than this. I hope this helps.

    Ross

    • Replies to Ross Huggett>

      Comment by Brigid McBride posted on

      Thank you for your response. We are looking at how we could offer in-year management of taxable income to our customers in the future as part of a major programme to significantly improve our digital offering. Our aim is that customers will have access to their individual tax affairs, such as Self Assessment and PAYE, through one online account to help them keep things in order in real time. They will be able to access this via the HMRC app.