IT Adoption Strategies and their Application to e-filing Self-Assessment Tax Returns: The Case of the UK
This article considers Information Technology (IT) adoption strategies as applied to the particular circumstances of e-filing UK Self Assessment (SA) Tax returns . It reports the findings from a study that involved three interested groups in the UK; tax advisers, tax authorities and software providers. IT adoption issues, as applied to a wide range of business situations, are considered in detail in order to set the study into context. The current study, which builds on the findings of a previous UK quantitative study, involved ten in-depth interviews with representatives from the three interested groups – tax advisers, tax authorities and software providers - in order to consider broader aspects of e-filing SA tax returns. The interviews identified that IT adoption is usually a ‘top-down’ decision. The availability of suitable and developing IT tax software is important for tax advisers; as is the perception of the user-friendliness of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) IT system. Pre-adoption concerns for tax advisers mainly centred on how e-filing would fit in with their current practice and the benefits, or otherwise of introducing IT. Post-adoption discussion centred on the wider benefits of IT adoption and the ease of use of the e-filing systems. Tax advisers in the study were clear about areas that could influence their decisions to e-file SA tax returns. Getting over the apprehensiveness of the reluctant IT adopters required good software products that fitted in with other office functions, overcoming any reluctance to trust HMRC IT capabilities and operational efficiencies. Security and privacy were of significant concern to tax advisers but visibility was of little importance. Overall, there was a positive assessment of e-filing SA tax returns. The study showed that e-filing was expected to expand to all but the most reluctant tax adviser practices within the next five years.
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