HMRC is contacting almost 135,000 taxpayers who currently file paper self assessment (SA) tax returns to tell them that they will need to phone HMRC if they require a paper form. The SA forms will no longer be available to download from

As part of HMRC’s digital by default approach, HMRC is contacting some individuals who currently file paper SA returns by letter, between 23 March and 4 April.  

The letter encourages filing online and includes guidance about how to do this. Individuals contacted by HMRC will receive a notice to file a tax return rather than a paper SA return. If they want to file on paper, they will have to request forms by phoning HMRC.  

Not all paper-filers will receive the letter. Those aged 70 or over who have not previously submitted digitally, along with visually impaired filers, will continue to receive a paper SA return automatically. 

SA returns submitted online have a filing deadline of 31 January following the tax year end, while paper returns normally need to be filed by 31 October following the tax year end. 

The paper form for the SA return will not be available to download from HMRC’s website from 6 April 2023. ICAEW has asked that specimen forms remain available for reference purposes. 

These actions form part of a wider campaign to move more of taxpayers’ interactions with HMRC to digital channels. This is highlighted in the Discussion document: Simplifying and modernising HMRC’s Income Tax services through the tax administration framework. HMRC has already trialled using SMS replies to direct queries from its phone helpline during the run-up to the SA deadline in January. HMRC will also be reducing its use of high-volume letters and forms, with more of these being delivered digitally over the next two years. HMRC is also mandating that employer benefit-in kind-returns forms P11D and P11D(b) are submitted online only from 6 April 2023 (see our other news item on this topic). 

HMRC hopes that this will increase efficiency in the face of continued struggles with service levels.    

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