With the publication of the HMRC annual report this week, I thought I’d pull out some of the digital highlights which show how we’re progressing with our work to make paying the right tax and claiming the right entitlements easier than ever for our customers.
Personal Tax Account
Since we launched the Personal Tax Account (PTA) back in December 2015, the number of services added to it has steadily increased, along with the number of customers accessing it. We now have more than 15 million individuals registered to use their PTA where they can view their tax code, check their tax liability and report change of circumstances.
Not only are we making it easier for customers to manage their affairs, we’re also helping to reduce the pressure on our more traditional customer service routes.
Making Tax Digital for Business
As well as having more than 3.3 million businesses using their online Business Tax Accounts, we’ve made great progress this year on our collaboration with tax and business software developers. We’ve been working with the industry to create products and services that work seamlessly with our own systems.
In April this year we launched a pilot for business customers that allows them to use approved software to generate and send their quarterly VAT return from their digital records, rather than logging in to the HMRC portal and typing in the information. We’ll be monitoring this pilot over the coming months ahead of the introduction of Making Tax Digital for VAT in April 2019.
Customer satisfaction for our online accounts remains high at 79.8% but we’re not resting on our laurels and are determined to keep improving our services by listening to and acting on feedback from our customers.
This year saw another rise in the number of people completing their Self Assessment return online, with 92.8% of customers choosing to file this way – a fantastic result. [page 18 of the report]
The next big event this year will be the annual tax credits renewal deadline at the end of July. Throughout the last year we’ve been making improvements to the HMRC mobile app, including a tracker for people to see when their next tax credits payment is due. This service has been accessed by over 9.9 million people. Like the Personal and Business Tax Accounts, this is helping our customers find what they need without needing to pick up the phone.
In 2017-18 we saw a 10% decrease in the number of calls to our contact centres. We’d like more of our customers to benefit from the simplicity and convenience of our digital services so we’re always looking at ways to keep bringing this figure down.
Third party data
We use third party data to help us identify risks and improve our digital customer experience. Last year we had 152 million data requests from businesses and agents via third party software. For us to be able to use the data from third parties we’re currently spending a lot of effort converting it into a format that’s compatible with our systems. So we’re developing a new data strategy to help us set consistent standards for the way data is supplied to us.
Keeping customers safe online
We are a major target for cyber criminals so we work tirelessly to protect our customers. In the last twelve months we’ve seen a reduction of 450 million phishing emails because of our technical controls working. This has forced criminals to try other approaches to deceive the public, including the use of SMS (phone text) phishing or ‘SMiShing’attack. Thanks to an innovative pilot, we've also been able to reduce the number of reported SMiShing attempts by 90%.
This is just a snippet of the information you can find in the full Annual Report and a small insight into the work we’re doing in HMRC digital. If you’d like to find out more you can read the report in full or an Executive Summary. There's also a short video on LinkedIn from our Chief Executive, Jon Thompson.
We'll update you on our progress here in HMRC digital with more blog posts coming soon.
Pete Schofield, Director of Development, Test and Operations
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