HMRC claims digital tax success as personal registration exceeds 7m target
There were 7.4 million people using a digital personal tax account by the end of 2016 – 400,000 more than its initial target – according to HMRC’s quarterly performance figures.
The tax authority’s Single Departmental Plan, published initially in 2016, said that it wanted to have 7 million digital tax users by April 2017.
However, HMRC has yet to achieve its customer satisfaction targets for digital services – it is aiming for an average of 80% customer satisfaction but achieved only 75.1% in the last nine months of 2016, when it first started recording this statistic.
The latest quarterly figures, released yesterday, also show that the period of October to December 2016 had the lowest average customer satisfaction of the year, of 74.2% - down from 76% in July to September.
The department said that it would “continue to closely monitor our performance against this target as our digital services grow and develop”.
Elsewhere in the report, figures show that the tax authority has continued to exceed its target to reply to 95% of i-forms and secure emails within 7 days, with a consistent 99% response rate throughout 2016.
HMRC’s digital targets are part of its aim to be the most digitally advanced in the world, which includes efforts to modernise its IT estate and encourage people to interact with the department online, as well as its Making Tax Digital reforms, the final details of which were set out in the draft Finance Bill earlier this month.
The department has also said it wants to make better use of data to improve compliance, personalise services and better target potential exporters, and is recruiting for a data exploitation officer to drive its wider data strategy.
More broadly, HMRC has said that, through the digitisation of tax collection and employing “a smaller but more highly skilled workforce”, it will make £1.9bn in cumulative sustainable efficiency savings over the course of this parliament.
The sustainable cost savings target for the 2016-17 financial year is £203m, but the most recent figures show that its savings between April and December 2016 come to £118.6m, with just £21.8m sustainable cost savings during the most recent, third quarter. This is compared with £46.7m in the first quarter of the 2016-17 financial year and £50.1m in the second.
The draft Finance Bill is due to come under the scrutiny of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee next week, with a session on 22 February hearing from the Making Tax Digital programme director Theresa Middleton and the director general of customer strategy and tax design at HMRC Jim Harra.
The Scottish government will implement a “tough” assurance process for digital projects, mandate the use of common technologies and offer training to make sure civil servants “get digital”.
Councils should be in the “driving seat” of technological change, but need to rethink the role they play in their locality and invest in long-term planning, a report has said.
The government has published its long-awaited Digital Strategy, which sets out plans to increase digital inclusion, data skills and industry links.
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