Research and analysis

Building in risk triggers to third party software

Research exploring any behavioural effects on tax agents after incorporating HM Revenue & Customs' risk triggers in tax return software.


Building in risk triggers to third party software

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Twenty risk triggers were incorporated into 3 tax return software packages used by tax agents to fill in their clients’ tax returns. Risk triggers are used by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to identify individual entries on tax returns that fall outside expected, pre-defined parameters or ranges.

This research was commissioned to explore whether using the software with inbuilt risk triggers had any effect on the user’s behaviour. The research feeds into HMRC’s objectives of making the most of IT and improving customer experience, accessibility, accuracy and timeliness. It provides evidence on which to base future rollout of similar initiatives.

Interviews with tax agents suggest they found the risk triggers to be useful additional checks and reported some instances of double checking figures, occasionally with clients. However, agents interviewed were also generally confident in their own professional abilities and performed their own checks of client data before using the software. They therefore often saw no reason either to be concerned by the triggers or to amend figures in response to them.

The research involved 41 in-depth interviews with professional tax agents who had used the trial software containing inbuilt risk triggers.

Published 15 July 2015