Consultation on government’s “digital by default” plansMonday, August 15th, 2011
HMRC is consulting on proposals to make online registration for income tax and corporation tax the norm for new businesses.
The government’s developing policy of “digital by default” is intended to change the approach to the design of public services so that, other than in inappropriate situations, the normal method of accessing those services would be online. Many users of government services already prefer to use online services. For example, over 75% of self-assessment returns are voluntarily filed online. Commercial software suppliers have also contributed towards this trend, with an estimated 1.6 million employers and businesses using commercial software to calculate and submit returns to HMRC.
In a new consultation document, HMRC sets out proposals for taking the migration to online services further in the particular context of registration by new businesses for corporation tax, self-assessment income tax, PAYE and Class 2 NICs.
Looking at the proposals for PAYE registration by new employers, the current guidance on HMRC’s website requires registration by telephone or email, but, almost as an afterthought, mention is made of HMRC’s online registration facility, which the consultation document calls the “registration wizard”. The consultation document proposes that online registration of a new PAYE scheme by all new and existing employers should be the default procedure. Online registration would not be mandatory however and HMRC would maintain other optional registration channels.
De-registration by employers that are ceasing business is also considered in the consultation document. Current procedures require the submission of year-end returns for the cessation year, but this can occur – if it happens at all – up to 13 months after the business closed. Views are sought on whether there should be a mandatory notification of cessation.
The closing date for comments is 31 October 2011.