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15.30 – 16.30. Digital by Default, and Agent Services Update. Julian Hatt, John McRae, Paul Bennett HMRC. Overview of HMRC’s Digital Exemplars IFA Conference – Birmingham 17 October 2013 Julian Hatt. 3. The drivers to act.

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digital by default and agent services update

15.30 – 16.30

Digital by Default, and Agent Services Update

Julian Hatt, John McRae, Paul Bennett


the drivers to act
The drivers to act
  • Government’s ‘Digital by Default’ agenda (reflected in HMRC’s Digital Strategy)
  • Clear Ministerial appetite to transform our services and do more for SMEs – borne out by Autumn Statement 2012 and Budget 2013 investment
  • Continued need to reduce HMRC costs and do more with less
  • External pressure (Office for Tax Simplification, Administrative Burdens Advisory Board, business, tax profession) to make things quicker, easier and simpler for SMEs



Supporting our Customer Centric Strategy

It drives revenue –digital by default services will allow us better to target interventions and manage risk on a transaction by transaction basis

Shifting more contact to digital channels contributes significantly to each of HMRC’s strategic objectives.

It’s cheaper – self serve allows us to theoretically shift to a ‘frictionless’ relationship, or at least towards cheaper channels.

It’s better for customers – a true digital interaction is quicker, easier, and comparable with external experiences.

Allows us to quickly target and segment – broadens our ability to deliver services by segment & influence behaviours (“nudge”)


how are we doing it
How are we doing it?

Focus is on user needs rather than traditional requirements

Delivery is iterative (start small and grow) rather than agreeing all the detail upfront

Regular user testing throughout to inform development and design

Ongoing improvement and iteration of the service

Delivered via more flexible design/delivery process – ‘Agile’

HMRC is committed to delivering digital services that are so good that they will be our customers’ first choice for interacting with us


the 4 digital exemplars
The 4 Digital Exemplars
  • Your Tax Account
  • Agent Online Self Serve
  • PAYE Online
  • Digital Self Assessment


We already provide a range of digital services for SMEs…

but we know they want to be able to do more (e.g. send/receive information) digitally…

and that some of the digital services we provide (e.g. webinars, tools, etc..) can be hard to find…

so we are still some way from providing the fully joined-up, integrated experience for SMEs that would allow us to have a wholly digital relationship with them

Why are we doing something?


your tax account1
Your Tax Account

A new service for business customers that makes dealing with HMRC quicker and easier

Personalised and tailored to individual business needs

Provides all interactions with HMRC (transactions, information, advice) in one place

Designed with business customers to be as easy as possible to use





your tax account balancing our needs
“Your Tax Account” – Balancing our needs
  • SME customer perspective
  • tax is not a priority, I’m busy running my business
  • I want to do my taxes at a time that suits me
  • doing my taxes can be confusing and complex and finding the relevant help can be hard
  • (for the compliant majority) I do want to do the right thing, but I’m not always sure I’ve got it right
  • HMRC perspective
  • collect the right amount of tax
  • serve SMEs at the lowest possible cost
  • remove the need/desire for them to call us with simple questions or for reassurance
  • provide a good customer experience (for compliant customers)
  • move resources away from correcting error and onto evasion

A win-win … Compliant SMEs want to comply with their tax obligations with the minimum possible effort and feel confident they’ve done it right.

HMRC wants to deliver this (for compliant SMEs) via digital channels wherever possible in order provide a quality customer experience whilst reducing costs and errors.


what are we doing
What are we doing?

Can see an overview of their HMRC “account”…

Via their personalised homepage small business users …

Can access all the help they need via links to…

…with links straight to action they need to take…

…tailored education…

…and interactive tools taking them straight to the relevant information for them

…help finding the right payment plan…

Can get the answers to their questions quickly and easily

…and a personalised tax calendar with digital alerts

…as well as receiving tailored outbound communications from HMRC

Can get direct access to all the online transactions relevant to them…

…and receiving relevantkey messages from HMRC (and potentially other Government Departments) direct to their homepage

…without having to wade through content that isn’t relevant to them



We will be trialling a small-scale private ‘Beta’, which is integrated with our back-end systems, to conduct live user testing with a cross-section of SMEs – we are keen for agents to be included, as SMEs in their own right

When we have refined and expanded the service in light of user feedback and usage data from the Beta trial (and ongoing user testing and research) we will make it accessible to all SMEs as the place they go to transact with HMRC

Continuous process of development and enhancement of the service


  • At least 8m customers use an agent to represent them – c4m individuals and 4m SMEs; 70% of businesses and 50% of ITSA individuals use an agent
  • Customers choose an agent because of complexity, assurance, time saving, and part of being in business, etc.
  • The majority use an agent for profit taxes, less so for PAYE and less still for VAT which are both regular parts of their business


agents on the digital agenda
Agents on the digital agenda
  • Autumn Statement 2012 announced ambitious digital plans, which means we need to:
    • know our agent population and the links with their clients’ behaviours
    • reduce exposure to cyber crime by bogus agents
    • move agents away from using paper towards transacting digitally with us
    • enable authorised agents to digitally see and do what their clients can see and do


spending review 2010 aim
Spending Review 2010 aim
  • Agents will be able to:
    • Register with us digitally
    • Notify us of clients digitally
    • View clients’ data online
    • Use new digital services on behalf of clients
paye online background
PAYE Online - Background

The first online service for 41 million individuals within PAYE

60 million calls, annually, to HMRC’s contact centres

13.9m PAYE-related

4-5m of these are to query tax code

16% of these relate to car/van, fuel and medical benefits

Costing customers £5 per call and HMRC £6 per call (longer calls)

A Private Beta will start with changes to car/van benefits and bank interest

Shift balance of the relationship away from employers and on to HMRC

Currently forecasting that PAYE calls will reduce by 1.7m [12%]


customer base
Customer base

Income tax on employment income

Income tax on self employment income

Capital gains tax

Student loan repayments

Charitable giving

Tax reliefs and allowances

Self Assessment is a mechanism that covers a diverse range of areas;

The SA customer base is equally diverse including self employed, pensioners, trustees, partnerships, those with multiple employments, those with foreign income, minsters of religion and Lloyds Underwriters.

Each of these can be represented by an agent. They can also file and interact with HMRC through a variety of channels – online, telephone, post.


digital self assessment background
Digital Self Assessment - Background

Self Assessment is one of our flagship online services.

80% of our customers choose to file online.

However, only around 25% of the customer journey takes place online.

We send customers letters at every stage of the process.

Despite filing with us online, we use paper to tell our customers about the outcome of their filing.

This is confusing and drives low-value contact at our contact centres.

600k calls asking about repayments.

183k letters asking about letters.


what is digital self assessment about
What is Digital Self Assessment about?

A lower cost Self Assessment system

A complete, better digital experience

Making it easier to understand