The Revenue says that next year it will be able to offer businesses access to a secure, portal-style website. Members of the public will have similar access at a later date. Terry Hawes, director of the e-services programme, said the portal is being developed in response to customer demand.
‘The way the Revenue infrastructure was originally put together could not provide customers with information in a format they could understand. We have stepped up the work in this area enormously and we will deliver this for companies,’ he said.
‘As with any large organisation, we have legacy systems that have been in place for more than 15 years, but over time we will get less dependent on them,’ added Barry Glassberg, director of ebusiness.
About 150,000 people have registered to send their tax returns over the internet, but as yet only 50,000 have used the facility out of an eligible four million. However, Glassberg believes this is in line with the adoption of ecommerce by customers of bricks and mortar companies. ‘I don’t think there will be linear growth. It will be in fits and starts,’ he said.
Only 2666 end-of-year returns have been sent by companies via the web, but the Revenue says the figure is set to grow now that tax return software is being embedded in commercial accounting products.
The Revenue has so far spent Pounds 20m on technology to assist self-assessment, but refuses to project a figure for its total spending on ebusiness projects. It aims to get 50%of people using its online services by 2005 – a huge challenge, given the current take-up rates.
The development work will be done with EDS, which is the Revenue’s principal outsourcer. The contract is up for renewal in 2004, but Glassberg says this will not threaten the eventual success of the project.
‘What it will do is focus attention. That EDS has a re-tendering coming up should add some spice, but I don’t see it as a risk to the programme,’ he said.
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