ATT calls for improvements to self-assessment registration

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) welcomes the Government’s announcement today1 that it will not make immediate changes to the timing of when people must register for self-assessment for the first time. But the ATT is very disappointed that HMRC have overlooked significant criticism of their IT systems and process around how people register for self-assessment.

The Government has today published its response to the evidence received after a consultation on potential changes to Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) registration for the self-employed and landlords.2 The ATT had previously called on HMRC not to make any changes.3

Jon Stride, Co-chair of ATT’s Technical Steering Group, said:

“We were not convinced that HMRC’s proposed reforms would achieve significant improvements to taxpayers’ experience of registering for self-assessment and we are pleased to see that the Government has decided not to proceed with its proposals but to carry out more research into why taxpayers who do not use an agent sometimes fail to register for tax on time.

“We are very disappointed not to see any response to the criticism from us and other professional bodies about HMRC’s IT systems. Feedback from our members suggests that improving the operation of HMRC’s IT systems and processes for dealing with self-assessment registration would greatly improve the experience both for taxpayers and their agents. We would like to see HMRC make the existing registration process more integrated to make it easier for taxpayers to understand and taxpayers and agents to use.”

Currently, agents are not able to register all types of client for self-assessment online and must resort to paper-based forms in some cases. Paper based forms take significantly longer to process taking many weeks or even months before HMRC are able to respond. Neither is it possible for a taxpayer to register for self-assessment and authorise their agent to act for them at the same time. Other improvements suggested by ATT could include a tracking system to allow taxpayers and agents to see the progress of their application and for taxpayers and agents to print or save a final copy of their registration.

Notes for editors

  1. The consultation outcome Income Tax Self Assessment registration for the self-employed and landlords – summary of responses was published on 20 July 2022.
  2. Under the current registration process, newly self-employed people and new landlords who are not already in self-assessment are required to notify HMRC that they have commenced trading/letting property within six months of the end of the tax year in which trading/letting started.2 This allows the individual to establish if they have any tax to pay - and therefore an obligation to notify - after the tax year, at the point at which all facts are known. In the call for evidence, two alternative proposals were put forward. Firstly, reducing the current deadline for registration from six months to two, three or four months from the end of the tax year and secondly, creating a new obligation to notify HMRC during the tax year in which activities commence, triggered by the start of a new self-employed or property income source or when a threshold of £1,000 of gross income received is passed. 
  3. The ATT’s original PR can be found here, our full response is available here and details of the Call for Evidence can be found here.
Posted in: News