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Client Stories

Online Tax Returns Surpass Targets

HMRC on track for universal online filing by businesses and IT literate individuals by 2012.


HM Revenue and Customs’ Self Assessment Online has been announced overall winner for the GC Awards 2009


“ This is a great example of really effective public sector delivery. All the hard work from HMRC business and the great partnership working with the Aspire team and our own frontline staff ensured this success. ”Lesley Strathie, CEO, HMRC

The Situation

The UK Government is driving a dramatic increase in take-up of its online services and is aiming for universal online delivery of individual and business tax returns by 2012. As the government department responsible for implementing the strategy, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) works with IT partner Capgemini to design, implement and manage the IT systems for the new online services. The strategy to phase introduction of the new services, starting with the Self Assessment (SA) declaration of annual income is already incredibly successful, with 5.8 million individuals and agents now choosing to file SA tax returns over the Internet.

“ HMRC’s SA online and other Internet services enable people to do business with government in the way we know they want to. The outstanding popularity of online filing is the foundation on which we are transforming the way taxpayers interact with us. ”Dave Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for Tax at HMRC

The Solution

The new SA Online service, launched in April 2008, is the largest web release ever undertaken by HMRC. The application is tailored to individual customers’ needs and uses the most advanced techniques to make it easy and quick for customers to use. It runs on an innovative Disaster Tolerant infrastructure across two data centres in separate geographical locations to ensure, even in the event of a failure, that the service remains available to customers. Critically, it has both the capability to adapt quickly to meet unpredicted levels of traffic and the scalability to grow in future years.

“ Capgemini has had to cope with a range of difficult issues. And a changing requirement as the security rules tightened up. They have also been particularly flexible when we have wanted to make changes to improve the customer experience. That has all contributed to a very successful January 31st peak. ”Stephen Banyard, Director of HMRC’s Business Customer Unit

The Result

SA Online is an important milestone in HMRC’s journey to universal online filing. Customers had the option to file by paper, but largely chose not to, and by the midnight deadline on 31 January 2009 there were 5.8 million SA Online returns.

The new service was a resounding success for taxpayers and HMRC alike:

  • two thirds of SA returns were online, an increase of over 50% on the previous year and an unprecedented rise in the number of customers using the Internet service
  • at its peak, the systems handled returns at a rate equivalent to 10 SA Online submissions every second
  • all the information required to complete SA Online is available on the website thanks to sophisticated features which include the ability to attach bank statements and other supporting documents in a safe and secure way
  • straight-through processing of the data helps speed up tax collection and compliance for the benefit of public services and UK citizens
  • the application and infrastructure were delivered to time and to budget.