Digital tax in the UK
One of the greatest adventures of our time is the modernising and digitising of national tax systems. The UK is a front-runner in this regard, with HMRC having maintained a crushing pace of a development on all front from UX to the less visible behind-the-scenes publishing of APIs (see the gob-smackingly diverse collection documented at api.gov.uk).
Alongside HMRC other public bodies in the UK are leveraging cost-free, user-friendly sites like
- YouTube to host explainer videos like “outstanding debts included in your tax code”
- Facebook to share brand-level content whether it’s to motivate individuals toward digital self-assessments or determine whether they might be getting underpaid for seasonal contract work
- GitHub to share publishable code and attract top engineering talent
As somebody who (in previous careers! Not any longer…) ran companies of multiple types (Limited Companies as a tech startup founder and later as a concert promoter; Partnerships as a composer/performer/producer; Sole Contractors as a consultant; Social Enterprises as a volunteer) I’ve had to participate actively in the hands-on book-keeping of these using whatever tools were available at the time. HMRC’s digitisation has incrementally saved me more hours each month and brought a tangible sense of hope for the future. For instance, the straightforward options available at login:
Notice the feedback link “not working properly?” which works well: I’ve never failed to receive a response within 48h.
Most critically the login/authentication processes have been sped up and secured, nowadays leveraging facial recognition / biometrics, multi-factor authentication steps, etc; at worst you will have to await a mailed verification code to confirm you’re living/working at the physical address registered with HMRC, but in my experience this is always turned around within no more than a week.
If we can keep accelerating all this, and make tax-paying as easy & speedy as possible, think of the sanity savings being made available not only to those with companies to run but everybody else playing a part in the lifecycle.