EY unleashes TaxChat self assessment serviceby
Big Four firm EY has launched TaxChat, a digital, on-demand self assessment tax platform for consumers.
Global accountancy giant EY has announced the release of TaxChat, a digital platform designed to help individuals complete their self assessment tax returns (SATRs).
TaxChat connects customers with an EY adviser via a digital platform which they can access online or by downloading the EY TaxChat app.
EY's lead partner on the project Mark Lee told AccountingWEB that the purpose of the service is to "combine a digital journey with personal and private client service."
Lee described the service as “not 24/7, and not a chatbot, [but] a way of securely communicating with the client's advisor and the client's team.”
After undertaking a study to research key issues surrounding self assessment, EY discovered that a third of the UK's 11.5m taxpayers were concerned about incorrectly filing their tax returns. Responding to these concerns, EY developed the mobile tax service as a consumer version of EY’s US TaxChat, to provide on-demand advice from tax professionals regarding SATRs.
An online and app service
Following registration, users are asked around 10-12 questions on income such as employment, self-employment, rental and investment, with supplementary follow-up questions on the relevant areas.
“This takes very little time, 1 or 2 minutes,” said Lee. Upon completion of these questions, a fee is quoted which “makes it very clear the charge that is going to be encased for the service.”
“Individuals know the price very early in the journey and there is no obligation,” added Lee.
Fees start at £329 inclusive of VAT, which includes the completion of one SATR and all associated activity, such as payment reminders, dealing with HMRC correspondence and answering ad hoc queries.
According to Lee, “in most cases, clients stay with us for many years, so in the second year, we review complexity and assess any to revise the annual fee.”
The TaxChat journey
Customers are guided through the self assessment process by an allocated adviser via the chat platform, with the adviser answering questions throughout the process. Messages can be sent through the chat function which “will be picked up and responded to by that customer’s advisers, usually the same day, or the next day,” explained Lee.
Users provide the EY adviser with their tax information by uploading required documents and photos onto TaxChat where everything can be 'e-approved'.
After the data exchange, the adviser prepares the tax return on the customer’s behalf and populates it into the platform. The customer is notified when the SATR is ready and is required to make payment via the application by debit or credit card.
At the end of the process, the individual can download and review the tax return. “If they are happy, they can approve the return and submit it straight through to HMRC,” added Lee.
Interactivity of TaxChat
Lee made clear that the chat service is “not a real-time, live conversation but is interactive based on when the adviser is there.” However, it can be almost real-time if the adviser is working with a client at that time, he added.
The level of interactivity is based on EY clients who “don't necessarily want real-time communication” with the more complex tax questions. More consideration is preferred so that the adviser can make sure they have checked and reviewed any requests before responding. The “turnaround time of a number of hours, or the next day, has gone down quite well,” Lee told AccountingWEB.
TaxChat users and MTD
Lee describes TaxChat’s target user as individuals required to complete and SATR, ie “landlords, freelancers, contractors, self-employed, and individuals earning over £100,000”. For people who have “just entered the area of having to complete a tax return, [TaxChat] is a good way to understand what their obligations are.”
The TaxChat lead partner concluded that with regards to Making Tax Digital, “EY is keen to prepare for MTD for SATR. To do that, I think every business will require a digital platform where they can connect with their client, a third-party organisation and HMRC. EY TaxChat is a foundation for that.”