It was announced that by the end of the next Parliament, every individual and small business will be able to see and manage their tax affairs through a digital account, removing the need for annual tax returns.
Under the plans, by early 2016 all of the UK's five million small businesses and the first ten million individuals will have access to their own digital tax account. It is intended to be simple, personalised and secure, offering an increasing range of integrated services. The accounts should bring together in one place all the information that taxpayers need to understand their tax position. They will be able to register, file, pay and update their information, at any time of the year, using the digital device of their choice.
Taxpayers will get a real-time view of their tax affairs and see how their tax is calculated. They will also be able to check how much tax they owe or need to be repaid and see their options for paying securely. Digital accounts aim to give small businesses greater certainty and control over their tax position. Those which pay more than one tax (such as corporation tax, VAT and PAYE) will be able to take a single view of their total liabilities across all taxes.
HMRC will automatically use the information it holds, along with new data from third parties, to populate the digital accounts. Those who pay their tax through PAYE will have their income tax, national insurance contributions (NICs) and pension position shown in their digital accounts, including any interest from banks and building societies. Taxpayers will then be able to log-in to check and confirm that their details are complete and correct.
By 2020, businesses will be able to manage their taxes together as part of their day-to-day running, rather than something to be done separately. Their accounting software will be able to feed data straight into their digital tax account, so that some businesses will simply log-in to check their details and not need to send an annual return.
The digital account will show PAYE taxpayers how much tax they will pay via their employer. Those with complex tax affairs will be able to tell HMRC about additional income online and have it reflected in their digital tax account. Individuals and small businesses will have the option to 'pay as you go'. In addition, instead of making a number of payments across different taxes, they will be able to make just one. Taxpayers will be able to let agents manage their digital account on their behalf.
Over time, it is intended that the digital accounts will offer access to a range of other Government services. To begin with, individuals will be able to see how their NICs affect their state pension. Later in 2015, the Government will publish a road map and consult on how it will deliver the changes needed. Separate consultations will cover a new payment process to support digital accounts and reform of NICs for the self-employed.