Developments in tax e-filing: Practical views from the coalface

Andrew Lymer, Ann Hansford*, Katy Pilkington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electronic filing (e-filing) of personal tax returns has become a global trend in developed countries. An increasing number of individual UK taxpayers are seeking help from tax advisers as ambitious e-filing targets increase the interaction between taxpayers, tax agents and government departments. This article aims to review the attitudes to information and communications technology (ICT) adoption between these three groups. This article has partly built on the work of Walsh and White, who use Moore's “Technology Adoption Life Cycle” to examine e-filing adoption by taxpayers and tax preparers in the USA. However, this article uses a mixed methodology that the authors argue is more suitable for the wider issues found in the UK. The results confirm that small/medium sized tax agent firms are more likely to be technology enthusiasts/early adopters of e-filing for their individual clients. As their business policies are more likely to be directly driven by technology enthusiasts, they have fewer issues with the incomplete e-filing system available at the early stages of its roll out and were more motivated by the visible benefits available from adopting e-filing. Larger firms have been slower and appeared more reluctant to embrace e-filing of personal tax returns being concerned that engaging in HM Revenue and Customs controlled systems and targets would compromise their internal systems, ICT integrity and control of complex tax cases. This split in e-filing attitudes by tax agents supports Moore's “chasm” argument for technology adoption processes, implying solutions for widening participation found appropriate for other domains could be equally applicable in this domain. The article reflects on these findings and proposes practical solutions that build on prior research to assist the government in achieving the future ambitious targets for e-filing. This paper reports the results of a national survey of tax advisers, supported by follow-up interviews, addressing the development of e-filing for personal taxation in the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-225
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2012


  • Archives
  • E-filing
  • Electronic filing
  • Tax
  • Tax agents
  • Technology adoption
  • United Kingdom


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