HMRC’s Online Gateways – Can you access them?

Going are the days of interacting with business and government via the medium of paper and telephone. Increasingly we are all encouraged to adapt to communicate through their apps and websites.

Are these new mediums faster? Are they easier to access? Are they more efficient?

Yes, of course they are. If you have a phone, tablet, or laptop you can engage with modern business almost anywhere. No waiting for paper forms, no waiting on hold for assistance, you can almost do it all by yourself. All you need is a little knowhow and the relevant hardware and then ‘you are off’.

However, this is not strictly true for everyone though.

The question that appears not to be asked is – can everyone access these services? Plainly, the answer is no. Why then are traditional mediums ebbing away without consideration to those people left behind.  Although I can appreciate the adage that you cannot please all of the people all of the time, it surely must need to be the case that there are arrangements for people who simply cannot (or refuse) to operate via the new(ish) style mediums.

After that long-winded diatribe against modern business, why am I bothering to even speak about this somewhat inevitable and foreseeable situation.

Well, turning to the world of HMRC tax compliance and namely the new Capital Gains Tax portal and the relatively new Trust registration portal, it appears interacting with these government services to complete mandatory tasks now has to be undertaken solely online.

What can be done when you cannot comply with the requirements because the mandated medium cannot be used through no fault of your own? It is not a legal requirement to own a computer, so HMRC should not expect you to have one. For those who live in remote areas, there is the added issue of requiring a strong internet signal.

Well it appears that HMRC have yielded when it comes to completing your post April 2020 Capital Gains Tax Return. If you do not have access to a computer, you may call HMRC who will complete the process on your behalf (i.e. you provide them with the information over the phone). Not perfect, but a solution of sorts, nonetheless.

You might be right in thinking that this approach will be taken for making your annual Trust register declaration. Of course not. That would be far too easy. Readers of Taxation Magazine may have seen the article on 19 May 2020 discussing this topic. The author stated and I quote “So far, we do not have full details of how the digitally excluded group will be supported” but “we understand that provision will be made through HMRC’s extra support team”. Well, I have as of August 2020 contacted HMRC on three occasions about this matter and I have been assured that a senior member of HMRC’s support team would call me to discuss the proposed options.

Well, what did I learn? Nothing! The relevant individual(s) did not call when a mutually agreed time was set, so the saga continues. I will continue to press this issue with HMRC and hopefully a resolution can be found.

If you think that you will need access to the discussed services and you have not previously used them, please ensure that you contact your accountant and/or HMRC at the earliest convenience to ensure there is sufficient time to deal with any access issues.

If you have any questions you can call 01243 782 423 and ask for Shaun Dodson or head to our contact form and he will be in touch!

Shaun Dodson Tax Adviser Chichester