HMRC has revealed that blank copies of self-assessment returns will no longer be sent automatically, as part of an attempt to drive up use of digital platforms.
The government department emphasised that the change does not prevent taxpayers filing a paper return if they still want to, although it said those who are able to file online will be encouraged to do so.
Last year, HMRC automatically sent out more than 500,000 returns. More than nine in 10 (94%) of its customers filed their returns online.
We are working hard to stop the use of unnecessary resources which have an environmental impact; that’s why we’re reducing the use of paper as much as possible"
From April, instead of automatically receiving a paper return, taxpayers who have filed on paper in the past will now receive a short notice to file. This will tell taxpayers that the taxman intends to communicate with them digitally.
If they still want to file on paper they can download a blank version of the return or call HMRC to request one.
The department estimates that between 1% to 3% of taxpayers will be unable to file digitally for the incoming tax year because of "the nature of their return or their personal circumstances".
"Where we can identify them in advance, we will provide them with a paper return in April 2020," it said.
The short notices sent out to the remainder of paper users will also outline department's preference to communicate with users solely through digital means in the future.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC's director general for customer services, said: "We are working hard to stop the use of unnecessary resources which have an environmental impact; that's why we're reducing the use of paper as much as possible. Digitisation remains an HMRC priority, but we're still committed to giving taxpayers the ability to choose what's best for them, so those who want to file a paper return can still do so."
The cessation of automatic provision of hard-copy tax returns is one of a number of measures being taken by HMRC to try and eliminate paper use.