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Self Assessment customers will no longer receive automatic paper returns, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has today announced, as part of efforts to encourage customers to take advantage of the online service and cut unnecessary use of paper.

Increasing numbers of people are expected to engage with HMRC digitally. Last year alone, 94% of HMRC’s customers filed their return online and HMRC recently saw a 110% increase in customers registering to communicate digitally. Last year HMRC automatically sent out over 500,000 returns.

Now, taxpayers will still be able to file a paper return if they choose but HMRC will encourage those who are able to file online to do so. The environmentally-friendly measure means that from April, instead of automatically receiving a paper return, taxpayers who have filed on paper in the past will now receive a short notice to file. If they still wish to file on paper they can download a blank version of the return or call HMRC to request one.

The notice to file will tell taxpayers that HMRC intend to communicate with them digitally and provide them with information about managing their tax affairs through their Personal Tax Accounts.

As customers visit their Personal Tax Account online HMRC will request their agreement to communicate digitally by default and, if they consent, subsequent communication, including statutory notices will be provided digitally.

Please note that this change will not prevent a tax payer from filing a paper return if they choose to do so. A small number of tax payers (1-3%) whom the nature of their return or their personal circumstances mean that filing digitally will be an issue, will continue to receive a blank paper return.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services said:

“Most customers manage their tax affairs online. It’s easy, secure and available 24 hours a day. Customers can also sign up for email alerts and online messaging. It doesn’t even have to be done all in one go – they can stop, save what they’ve done, and pick up where they left off later.

“We are working hard to stop the use of unnecessary resources which have an environmental impact; that’s why we’re reducing the use of paper as much as possible.

“Digitisation remains an HMRC priority, but we’re still committed to giving taxpayers the ability to choose what’s best for them, so those who want to file a paper return can still do so.”

These efforts are part of a larger HMRC initiative to reduce unnecessary paper with Annual Tax Summaries now also moving to taxpayers’ Personal Tax Accounts. The summaries of what PAYE taxpayers have paid were posted to 22 million people last year.

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