Revenue ices EVR

The electronic version of the Inland Revenue’s self-assessment taxarliamentary staff. return has been put on ice, but ministers dropped hints that it might be developed further in the future.

The electronic version of the tax return, called EVR, is a two-disk interactive form that cost #600,000 to develop, of which #200,000 went to EDS, the Revenue’s main IT partner for the self-assessment effort.

The Revenue has dispatched some 120,000 sets of EVR disks to enable taxpayers to complete their return on a PC. But only 28,000 EVR print-outs were returned last year.

Earlier this month, financial secretary Dawn Primarolo told Labour MP Gwynneth Dunwoody there were ‘no immediate plans to develop EVR further’.

A Revenue spokesman explained the intense pressure to implement self-assessment resulted in a business decision to divert resources from EVR.

He added that EVR was intended for unrepresented individual taxpayers, so it was configured only to handle returns for employed people or those receiving UK pensions or social security payments.

In the words of Solution 6’s Nigel Powell, EVR was doomed to be a ‘hobbled beast’. ‘Everyone wanted to bury EVR once the Revenue launched the electronic lodgement system. Tax software suppliers were being asked to put effort in to making electronic submission work, but if the Revenue popularised EVR, it would hurt us,’ he said.

Inland Revenue head of operations Doug Smith told vendors EVR would not be developed further, Powell added.

But Primarolo’s announcement did not necessarily indicate the end of EVR. ‘The Inland Revenue is looking at possible options and will consult appropriately when it is in a position to make proposals,’ she said.

The Revenue spokesman said plans had been drawn up to extend the current pack to encompass supplementary pages covering capital gains, property, foreign and other types of income.

If EVR were developed further, it would potentially rival some of the lower end tax-preparation packages. But the Revenue spokesman concluded: ‘If someone wanted to pick up and pursue it, we wouldn’t stop them. But we suspect there isn’t a viable commercial market.’

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