HMRC's outgoing CIO Mark Hall has mapped out the major challenges that will be facing new CIO Mark Dearnley when he arrives in October from Vodafone.
Dearnley, whose official title will be chief digital and information officer, will lead the organisation through its transformation into a "systems and service integrator" model.
HMRC is currently working through a major campaign of systems consolidation that will see the number of systems serving the former Customs & Excise side of the organisation cut by 300. It follows a series of consolidation projects of former Inland Revenue systems, merging multiple disparate tax systems to run on common, typically SAP-based tax platforms.
In addition to cutting costs, says Hall, part of the aim of the consolidation programmes has been to clear the way to put more and more taxes online, in a more integrated manner - providing the foundation for a more cloud-like transformation of HMRC's IT as the 2017 date for the renewal of the Aspire outsourcing contract looms.
"We already have 200 online services. These are primarily targeted at business 'customers'. They are things like VAT, for example, or they are targeting things like self-assessment. Our ambition is to consolidate them even further and start to look at individual and personal taxpayers in the next wave of digitisation," says Hall.
Those plans to further digitise the UK's many different taxation systems will be part-financed by a £200m, three-year investment plan announced in June. Under this plan, the hope is that the digitisation process will cut the number of paper filings and phone calls taxpayers have to make to HMRC and, therefore, will eventually save some £50m annually in administrative costs.
"Going forward, we will be targeting our personal tax customers more. We have four key exemplar projects we are running in this area. The first one is PAYE [pay as you earn] online, which will ultimately deliver an online service to 39 million individual taxpayers," says Hall.
That would encompass the digitisation of the tax code process: instead of sending out millions of letters every April with people's tax code, it could be done online via a portal or sent by email, as well as the communication of other personal tax information.
"You could go online to inform us that you have got a new company car, for example, so the service is targeted at providing the information you already get on paper, but in an online experience, and giving people a simple route to log simple changes and changes of circumstances," says Hall.
He continues: "The second one is called 'My Tax for Business', which will provide an online portal for business so that they can see all of their taxes in one place - a bit like online banking... If you're a business, you will be able to go into one place and administer all your taxes from one place."
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