Over the past few months HMRC and GDS have collaborated on improving the way the HMRC manuals are maintained and made available to the public. HMRC publishes about 200 tax manuals which added up to about 80,000 pages on its former site. These manuals are mainly used by tax agents and other specialists for detailed tax guidance.
HMRC has built a new publishing system which makes it easier for its tax experts to update and maintain the content of the manuals. Tax agents, accountants and specialists need to be able to see the tax manuals exactly how HMRC publishes them internally, so the GDS team knew we couldn’t touch the content. We did create a new design for the manuals to make them more user-friendly and bring them in line with GDS design principles.
Between the backend and frontend sits the newly developed “write API” that allows HMRC editors to publish and update manuals on GOV.UK. This is a major milestone for GOV.UK; the first write API that allows a government organisation to publish directly to GOV.UK, something we'll be building on over the coming months.
VAT Government and Public Bodies is the first HMRC manual that is pushed from HMRC’s publishing system through our API and then published on GOV.UK.
It’s great to see the system working end-to-end as a beta but we’re not done yet.
We would like your feedback
The new version on GOV.UK and the old version on HMRC are currently running in parallel. We will keep both of them live for a couple of weeks to give you enough time to review and provide feedback. The best way to provide feedback is through the “Give feedback about this page” link at the top of each page or through our feedback form.
We will review your feedback carefully and continue iterating the format. Once we’re confident that the version on GOV.UK is accurate and meets the needs of our users we will redirect the HMRC version to GOV.UK.
In the coming weeks and months HMRC will import the remaining 200+ manuals into their new publishing system. After these imports have been carefully reviewed by HMRC’s tax experts the manuals will gradually be published and the old HMRC version redirected to GOV.UK.
Future development and improvements
We’ve previously blogged about the manuals format that we’re developing for all government departments. The GOV.UK product team is starting with a new round of iterations on this format and will look at things such as:
- search within a manual
- printing and downloading manuals
We will also apply these improvements to the HMRC manuals so that this format benefits from the work we’re doing for all government organisations.