Two-thirds filed their tax returns online

Another small step forward in e-government: HMRC is reporting that ‘67% of all self assessment tax returns were filed online this year… A total of 5,759,006 people filed online by the 31 January deadline – an increase of over 50% on the 2008 total, when 3.8m people filed online.’
Why the sudden change in behaviour? ‘HMRC’s SA online and other Internet services enable people to do business with government in the way we know they want to,’ says a quote in the press release – but I’m not so sure. There was a significant change in the rules this year: paper returns had to be in three months earlier. And as previous experience shows, most people don’t do their returns until the very last minute.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with using such ‘encouragement’ to move people towards online interaction – as long as government is able to keep its end of the bargain.
PS: In the initial version of this post, I said I’d heard that the Self Assessment system wasn’t compatible with Firefox. In fact, it’s the VAT system that still isn’t Firefox-friendly. There were problems with the C&E side of the HMRC website some time ago, but I thought they’d all been sorted? Apparently not.

3 thoughts on “Two-thirds filed their tax returns online”

  1. To be fair, the firefox problem with VAT is a pretty minor one: some of the intial pages have a glitch which means they render in plain text – I assume because of non-standard CSS which in turn no doubt is a product of their not-quite CMS. But the VAT return process itself works perfectly in firefox and has done for a long time – I have certainly been doing returns that way for many quarters.

  2. I’m glad others were having the firefox problem, thought it was just me.
    I always get plain text versions of HMRC VAT pages since forever.
    if they could fix their crazy complicated XML API maybe even more people could utilize online filing through a better program.

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