HMRC has clarified its position on voluntary tax returns.
'HMRC’s long-standing policy is to accept voluntary ITSA individual and partnership returns on the same basis as returns received pursuant to a s8 TMA1970 notice, where the clear intention of the person submitting the return is that it should be treated as such. We have no plans to change our policy on voluntary returns.
This policy provides a mutually beneficial administrative arrangement for customers and HMRC. The alternative would be that HMRC would have to reject returns submitted voluntarily, issue a formal s8 notice and the customer would have to resubmit the return. This would add unnecessary administrative burdens to both customers and HMRC, causing unnecessary delay in HMRC processing returns, claims and repayments.
Where the clear intention of the customer is that the voluntary return is to be treated as if it were a return made pursuant to a s8 TMA1970 notice, HMRC accepts the voluntary return on the basis that the same statutory consequences will follow as if it were in fact a return made pursuant to a s8 TMA1970 notice, including HMRC’s powers to enquire into that return under (s9A/12AC TMA 1970.)
As part of our ambition to put the customer at the heart of what we do, we have introduced Simple Assessment for 2016/17 onwards to enable HMRC to send customers with straightforward tax affairs a Simple Assessment notice of their liability without the need for them to submit a Self-Assessment return. We expect that this will significantly reduce the number of voluntary returns that we receive each year. PAYE customers, who are not already in Self Assessment, do not need to complete a SA tax return in order to get a refund.
Longer term our plans are to abolish the annual tax return as part of our Making Tax Digital strategy.'