A colleague was at a seminar recently (I'll not say which organisation hosted it) during which she was advised by the speaker that it was now illegal for accountants to email tax returns to clients, and had become so in the last six months. Instead, we should only be using online portals, so that we can upload tax returns etc. for the client to then download securely.
We have used email to send tax returns (as a PDF attachment) for years and is clearly very useful, especially if clients are on the move a lot or live overseas where mail can take an age to arrive if at all, and of course, in the last few weeks of January each year, emailing returns slashes the turnaround time for those dillatory last minute clients that we all have.
So, when I heard this may now be illegal, I tried to find out more, but I've not been able to find anything else on the matter. There are a number of articles written about the use of portals and that they may offer higher levels of security (I'm told that pretty much anything online can be accessed if the third party is determined to do it) but nothing to say it's illegal. I understand that in some US states it has been made illegal to use email in this way, but not the UK. If it were, who would police such a system? - I assume it would be down to the intended recipient to take the legal action if they discovered that their tax return had been emailed rather than uploaded.
We do have an online portal facility but clients don't seem too keen - probably as it involves setting up passwords and looking out for separate notifications being sent when something is ready to be downloaded.
Has anyone else heard about this, or is it a bare faced sales pitch to get people to sign up to the portal services that were also being offered at the same seminar?