HM Revenue & Customs chief technology officer Steve Walters has detailed two data-driven areas of change his department expects in the coming years.
Walters told delegates at the Public Sector ICT Summit – organised by PublicTechnology’s parent company, Dods – that open standards for data were changing HMRC’s approach to software development, while greater data capacity would also change the way tax was sought.
In a panel session on the topic of “implementing change” Walters said open standards were driving HMRC towards the creation of application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers, rather than creating its own products for end users.
“We’ve focused to date largely on supplying web applications to consumers,” he said.
“Our big change over the next couple of years is going to be much more APIs, so that people can use those APIs to inspire their applications.”
Asked whether he saw HMRC’s online presence undergoing radical change over the next decade, Walters said he believed taxpayers were likely to find themselves presented with information to verify – rather than input from scratch – to a greater extent.
“Self-assessment was pretty leading edge when it was introduced 10 or 12 years ago – but it was a form to fill in online.,” he said.
“I think that the change we’ll make will be the data side of things. When we get more real-time data from other organisations, why should you have to put your bank interest-rate in, why should you have to put your share income in?
“Couldn’t we just get all of that together so we just show you something and say ‘this is what we think your tax level is’?
“The data is going to be the big driver. At the end of the day people are going to pay their tax, and the actual process probably isn’t going to change at the back end, but I think the experience and the use of your data at the front end is going to be where the difference is.”