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HMRC Encourage ‘Digital by Default’ Tax Return Filing

HMRC is contacting almost 135,000 taxpayers who currently file paper self assessment (SA) tax returns to tell them that they will need to phone HMRC if they require a paper form. The SA forms will no longer be available to download from

As part of HMRC’s ‘digital by default’ approach, HMRC is contacting some individuals who currently file paper SA returns by letter.  

The letter encourages filing online and includes guidance about how to do this. Individuals contacted by HMRC will receive a notice to file a tax return rather than a paper SA return. If they want to file on paper, they will have to request forms by phoning HMRC.

PLEASE NOTE: Not all paper-filers will receive the letter. Those aged 70 or over who have not previously submitted digitally, along with visually impaired filers, will continue to receive a paper SA return automatically.

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SA returns submitted online have a filing deadline of 31st January following the tax year end, while paper returns normally need to be filed by 31st October following the tax year end.

The paper form for the SA return will not be available to download from HMRC’s website from 6th April 2023.

Not to be confused with ‘making tax digital’

HMRC’s ‘Digital by Default’ approach should not be confused with ‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD), which is the Government’s initiative to implement a fully digital tax system in the UK, whereby taxpayers keep digital records and use MTD compatible software to make tax submissions electronically every quarter.

MTD has already been implemented for any business registered for VAT and will be phased in for Income Tax Self Assessment in 2026.

Fot more information on MTD – CLICK HERE

These actions form part of a wider campaign to move more of taxpayers’ interactions with HMRC to digital channels. This is highlighted in the Discussion document: Simplifying and modernising HMRC’s Income Tax services through the tax administration framework. HMRC has already trialled using SMS replies to direct queries from its phone helpline during the run-up to the SA deadline in January. HMRC will also be reducing its use of high-volume letters and forms, with more of these being delivered digitally over the next two years. HMRC is also mandating that from 6th April 2023 employer benefit-in kind-returns forms P11D and P11D(b) are submitted online only.

HMRC hopes that this will increase efficiency in the face of continued struggles with service levels.

If you currently file paper self assessment tax returns and are unsure of what you need to do after 6th April this year, please contact our experienced Tax Team on 01384 376964

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