Free filing By Simon Sweetman

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There is a little problem building up about online filing (not just that it doesnt work some of the time)...

As we know, HMRC provides its own free software for people to complete tax returns in many areas : for self assessment, for corporation tax, for VAT, and for employers with up to nine employees, for PAYE. Agents can use that as well, though most of them will actually use commercial software.

The Working Together professional bodies have now produced a Tax survey of their members (so that is across AAT, ACCA, ATT, CIOT, ICAEW, ICAI and ICAS), and they believe that this should continue to be the case. The overwhelming view, it says, is that where there is an obligation to file online, free software should be made...

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04th Sep 2008 10:19

I am amazed by some of the responses below. Obviously anything the government does ultimately comes out of taxation, but I think that it is much fairer if, when government imposes a compliance obligation, it should bear the cost of that. Obviously there are thousands of times when that does not happen, but if there is one situation it should, it is with tax returns.

And I have no doubt that the option to do a paper return will soon be abolished. Not everyone is computer literate, and not everyone can use a computer or has easy access to one in sufficient privacy to do a return, let alone own one they can load their own software on to. The people most likely to be in this position are the ones probably least able to pay for or access professional help - such as some pensioners, as mentioned below, or individuals who dip in and out of employment and self employment.

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By Anonymous
28th Aug 2008 11:49

Why are any pensioners, who's main source of income is from the state, included in Self Assessment? It's quite clear that the Revenue already has most of the information required, including Schedule E. If it is just a matter of assembling all the information in one place, then the Revenue is best placed to undertake that task.

That being the case, it is hardly appropriate to push Internet filing, especially when the 'free' software doesn't work half the time.

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By Anonymous
27th Aug 2008 11:40

Possible solution
One solution that has been suggested is that HMRC withdraws its free software thus removing the need for it to spend money updating its own software. To balance this, ‘customers’ would have to pay to use commercial software but could then claim it against their tax bill.

Neutral cost for the individual, cost savings for HMRC that can be ploughed into the infrastructure and the software developers get a source of income to aid future development.

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27th Aug 2008 09:57

It's not free
It's paid for out of taxation.

What's being suggested is that in order to fulfill our obligations to pay tax we should first pay a tax!!!!

e-filing makes it cheaper for the government not the users. Why should we pay for this twice?

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26th Aug 2008 22:34

There is no such thing as free software from HMRC
We, as tax payers, will be paying for this software, it is not free.

Why do people continue to talk about 'free' software??

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26th Aug 2008 17:14

LLPs ?
Anything for LLPs ?

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