Annual Tax Summaries - Alpha Assessment
Once a user’s Self Assessment return for the previous tax year has been processed their tax summary will become available for access through the newly released Your Tax Account service. It will also be accessible by Agents on behalf of their clients.
The service will provide the user with a summary of the information that they submitted in their original Self Assessment tax return. This will include the following:
- Tax and National insurance
- Tax free amounts and adjustments
- Capital gains
- A breakdown of Treasury spend
Department / Agency:
Date of Assessment:
Result of Assessment:
The Tax Summaries service has been reviewed against the 26 points of the Service Standard at the end of the Alpha development.
Outcome of service assessment
After consideration we have concluded that the Tax Summaries service is on track to meet the Digital by Default Service Standard at this early stage of development.
The assessment panel were impressed by the answers the service team gave and they showed that they had considered all the points of the service standard and are making good progress towards addressing any outstanding issues during the beta. Our detailed reasons for the pass are given below along with a number of recommendations that the service must consider before their beta assessment.
The service is being delivered by an agile multidisciplinary team who have conducted user research on a range of users. The service is simple and intuitive enough for a user to succeed first time unaided.
There was a considerable degree of ministerial involvement in the design of the original prototypes and policy teams initially indicated that changes from these designs would not be accepted. The service team used the evidence they collected from user research to make iterative improvements to the service that were accepted by the policy team. It is of particular note that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has not only used the alpha service but he has seen the results of user research and watched videos of users interacting with the service. The service team must be commended for their work to engage with such senior stakeholders in the iterative development of the product as a result of user research.
The service team have engaged with their colleagues who are developing other HMRC digital services, in particular Your Tax Account and Digital Self Assessment to ensure that their product is being built in a way that can be fully integrated into those services or accessible through an API, such as accessing the Treasury expenditure information as a microservice.
The following recommendations should be acted upon and must be satisfied before the beta assessment.
Service Standard point 1 - Re: User needs
The user needs for Tax Summaries originates from a commitment in the 2012 budget where the Chancellor promised to deliver a personalised summary of Income Tax, National Insurance and a view of associated expenditure by the Treasury.
Even at this early stage of development the service have made progress to understand how those needs can be best met with a digital service. User research has shown that users are not actively seeking the information in the Tax Summary but once they see it they enjoy interacting with the information and are interested in how their taxes are spent. The service should:
- continue user research to identify user needs within the scope of the ministerial initiative, and if necessary change the scope of the policy to ensure it meets user needs
- iterate the product
- feedback to the Chancellor and Financial Secretary to the Treasury on how those needs might be met
Service standard point 2 - Re: Service Manager empowered to make decisions
The Service Manager is empowered to deliver the digital only product, which is available for Self Assessment users but not the rest of the service. PAYE users will receive a paper based Tax Summary from a service which is managed by a different team. The service manager is making strong progress to influence channel shift by producing a high quality digital product (so that the paper product can be switched off) but the Service Manager is not effectively empowered to make decisions about the whole service. The paper based Tax Summary was produced after limited user research and now looks quite different to the online Tax Summaries. HMRC should avoid producing parallel paper and digital services and instead produce a single service with digital, and if necessary, non-digital offerings.
Service standard point 10 - Re: Assisted digital support
The assessors welcomed the plan to procure assisted digital support from the central framework currently being pulled together by GDS in conjunction with CCS and exemplar departments. A central HMRC team is considering assisted digital needs and provision across a range of their services. Existing approaches to supporting users with enquiries are being considered for assisted digital support, and include assisted digital needs assessment.
However, the service team needs to proactively seek out and undertake research into the specific assisted digital needs of end users of the service (ie not agents). They should plan to put in place and test tailored support for this service’s users, to ensure that appropriate assisted digital channels are made available that meet their needs and numbers.
Service standard point 13 - Re: Content design
The team showed evidence of rapidly iterating the content design in the service based on user research. This work should continue to ensure that complex tax terms are properly explained and links to GOV.UK content for further information are added, where user research demonstrates the need.
Service standard point 15 - Re: Open source code
The service have not yet made their source code publicly available, although their code base has been carefully managed in a way that is ready for release. We are aware that there is full support at many levels in HMRC for source code to be made open but very little has so far been made public. The impediment appears to be that governance arrangements are not in place and we would urge the HMRC Digital Leader to ensure that the process is streamlined for a Service Manager to obtain the necessary consents from businesses within HMRC to release the source code.
Digital by Default Service Standard criteria