Tax filing strike fear for 31 January

Tax advisers face a nervy self assessment filing deadline as a national
public sector workers’ strike is set to take place on 31 January.

The Public and Commercial Services Union began balloting 280,000 members
across 200 government departments this week on strike action in response to what
it calls a ‘dogmatic policy of outsourcing and privatisation’. The ballot will
conclude in three weeks.

The ballot followed HM Revenue & Customs’ announcement that the
department could shed a further 12,500 jobs on top of its original plans to cut
that number to meet efficiency savings.‘Job cuts are damaging services and are
completely unnecessary,’ said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.

HMRC said it was disappointed in the PCS’ move, and would do everything it
could to maintain its service delivery.

A spokesman reiterated HMRC’s call for returns to be filed as early as
possible and using the online method. But tax advisers have again raised
concerns about the robustness of HMRC’s online filing system.

A survey of more than 1,000 practitioners found they are enthusiastic about
using HMRC online services and are looking at filing PAYE and VAT returns online
in the near future, but highlighted a large number of problems, including the
system’s robustness at peak times.

‘There has been a significant increase in the number of SA returns filed
online this year and the survey suggests that the trend is set to continue. But
there is still a major confidence barrier. The recent NI computer glitch won’t
have helped,’ said Paul Aplin, deputy chairman of the ICAEW’s tax faculty.

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