It sounds too good to be true, but the UK has a plan to scrap paper tax returns in favor of digital tax accounts that are regularly updated with the government. The basic idea is that by linking up government systems with business accounting systems, bank statements and employer payment information, individuals and businesses will true up their tax obligations at more regular intervals without the burden of a yearly pilgrimage to their accountant. Trials will begin in 2016 and be available to anyone by 2020.
Countries around the world are looking for ways to make tax collection more efficient and less of a burden on their citizens. If this is even modestly successful, you can bet even those that don’t already have similar projects in the works will take note and follow suit.
This is another great example of how real-time information is changing decades-old business processes, and proves that nothing is safe from change. It may put a few tax accountants out of work, but it will alleviate billions of dollars in administrative burden on tax payers and collectors.