Budget 2000 – Delay threatens e-filing discount.

The Inland Revenue’s £10 e-filing discount – a key plank of Gordon Brown’s Budget next week – will not be available to customers until after 31 January 2001, Accountancy Age has learned. Brown is seeking to use this year’s Budget to boost the growth of e-business in the UK. And to demonstrate that the government is practising what it preaches, he will confirm next week that from April, self-assessment taxpayers who file their return over the internet and pay tax electronically will receive a £10 incentive. But the Revenue told Accountancy Age this week that it will not have the structure in place to be able to discount individuals’ tax bills until next year. No firm date is imminent. Officials are locked in talks with representative bodies including the Taxpayers Service Delivery Sub-group in a bid to thrash out a solution and timescale. A Revenue spokeswoman confirmed: ‘At the moment we do not know when the mechanism will be in place to recognise the discount. It will depend on the interest we receive from talks with the representative bodies.’ Already it is estimated three million self-assessment returns may have been submitted before the Revenue is ready to recognise the discount. As a result the agency could have a backlog of work to reinvestigate returns before giving the discount. Legislation will be needed to give the Revenue power to award £10 discounts. The next Finance Bill, which will include the power, is not due to receive Royal Assent until August. Until then individuals will only be able to register to file their return before August and be credited with the discount at a later date. Budget news page 2, analysis page 8, leader page 16.

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