BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Business
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Market Data 
Economy 
Companies 
E-Commerce 
Your Money 
Business Basics 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Karen Allen
"The timing couldn't be worse"
 real 56k

David Davis MP, Public Accounts Cttee Chairman
A lot of civil servants have little knowledge of software systems
 real 28k

Friday, 18 August, 2000, 21:19 GMT 22:19 UK
Inland Revenue web fiasco

Filing by internet could save taxpayers money
The UK's tax authorities had to shut down the website allowing electronic filing of self-assessment tax returns one month after it was launched.

The Inland Revenue said the service had been made temporarily unavailable after technical errors were discovered.

The website was re-opened on 20 August after the software had been upgraded.

Before the upgrade, Inland Revenue staff printed out the electronically filed tax returns and re-typed all the data and details for computer processing.

Now all data are transferred electronically and fed directly into the government's records.

Project trouble

The closure of the website is the latest in a string of hitches plaguing the government's internet projects.

Some estimates are that in the past decade about 25 government commissioned IT projects have collapsed.

Last year, people had to queue for hours to get passports, following a computer problem at the passport office.

Some observers have pointed to the complexity of the tax system as the reason for the closure.

"It shows what a complex tax system we have that even the Inland Revenue cannot computerise it," John Whiting from PriceWaterhouseCoopers said.

Discounts for tax payers

The service had been launched on 3 July and offered one-off discounts to those filing their returns and paying any tax due electronically for the 1999/2000 tax year.

Self-assessment taxpayers who file their returns by e-mail from April, and pay any tax due electronically, receive a discount of 10.

The idea was to get more people to embrace the internet, while also delivering substantial savings to the Inland Revenue through reducing the need for staff to handle posted forms and key in personal details.

But the discount was much less than had been expected and it was thought unlikely to do much to persuade people to change their ways.

So far 300,000 people have registered their interest in filing tax returns online.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

21 Aug 00 | Business
Taxing internet returns
10 Feb 99 | Your Money
No taxes in the new millennium?
20 Oct 99 | Your Money
Q&A: Tax reform
17 Feb 00 | Business
Surfers save on tax
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories