A step change in the way small businesses and individuals use Internet technology was announced today by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Tax discounts to encourage small businesses and individual taxpayers to embrace Internet technology:
– from April 2000, Self-Assessment taxpayers who file their return over the Internet and pay any tax due electronically will receive a discount of 10 pounds.
– from April 2001, small businesses that file their VAT returns or PAYE end of year returns via the Internet and pay any tax due electronically will receive a discount of 50 pounds (or a double discount of 100 pounds for both PAYE and VAT).


Internet filing

1. From April 2000, most individuals will be able to file their Self Assessment tax returns via the Internet.

2. During 2000-01, services will also be introduced so that employers can send and receive a wide range of Pay As You Earn forms and returns via the Internet, and VAT registered businesses can send their VAT returns via the Internet.


3. The Government proposes to offer a discount to small businesses and individuals who file their tax returns via the Internet and pay the tax due electronically. A discount will be linked to each of the new services. Users of more than one service may therefore qualify for more than one discount. The discounts are being made available for one year for each service, and Customs is also considering longer time to pay for businesses that file their VAT returns via the Internet.

4. Both departments already offer a range of ways by which tax can be paid electronically. Businesses can use direct credit through BACS or CHAPS, but individual taxpayers may prefer to pay using a debit card or initiate the BACS transfer through other means such as their PC or telephone-banking scheme. In future, an Internet-based service may also be provided.

5. Internet technology will help deliver the Government’s vision of making services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The discounts should encourage take-up of the new services, lead to administrative savings and boost customer service by offering businesses and taxpayers new ways of dealing with their tax affairs.

6. We will be consulting with representative bodies, including the Taxpayer Service Delivery Sub-Group of the joint Inland Revenue and Customs Electronic Commerce Consultation Forum, on the mechanism of the discounts scheme. Other representations may be made to: edecs.c&e@gtnet.gov.uk


1. The Prime Minister has set a target that 25% of transactions with government should be capable of being done electronically by 2002.

2. The Government is also taking a leading role in encouraging enterprise in electronic business and in the development of the infrastructure needed to support the competitiveness of UK business in the growing e-commerce markets.

3. In the Pre-Budget Report the Chancellor re-stated the Government’s intention to offer a discount on tax returns filed over the Internet, as announced in Budget 1999, as an incentive to encourage small businesses and individual taxpayers to use the new Internet services.

4. Legislation in the 1999 Finance Act enables Customs and Inland Revenue to develop new electronic services that taxpayers can use as an alternative to traditional paper-based communication. In addition to supporting the Governments broader policy objectives for electronic communication and e-commerce generally, the development of these Internet-based services should have efficiency benefits for small businesses and the Revenue departments, and should provide improved customer service for businesses and individual taxpayers.

Media enquiries to HM Customs & Excise, Communications Division, to contact the Duty Press Officer out of hours please call 0171 620 1313

Others should contact their local VAT Business Advice Centre, listed under Customs & Excise in the telephone book.

Customs & Excise Internet address: http://www.open.gov.uk/customs/c&ehome.htm

Inland Revenue Internet address: http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk

This news release can also be found at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk. Other Treasury material can also be found at this address.

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