Agents snub Revenue’s ELS

The accountancy profession has turned its back on the Inland Revenue’s effort to streamline self-assessment by bringing personal taxation into the digital age.

As of 5 January, 22,433 self-assessment tax returns were filed using the Revenue’s new electronic lodgement system (ELS). The Revenue received 3,382 applications from agents seeking more information about electronic filing, and sent the tax exchange module (TEM) to 1,200.

According to Brian Handley, the Revenue official in charge of ELS, the take-up was not as high as expected, but 650 agents have been set up to file electronically. ‘Our projection of 1,000 by 1 April is attainable,’ he added.

The software companies that sell self-assessment preparation software have reported that the ELS filing module is proving difficult to load on customers’ systems. Users are also having trouble deciphering files returned by the Revenue.

The Revenue acknowledged some problems with the TEM, but Handley commented: ‘It is a new system and the number of problem reports is not that high.’ Difficulties in loading the TEM have been addressed with a version launched this week that includes an installation ‘wizard’, said Handley.

Nigel Powell, spokesman for Solution 6 which supplies the PerTax self-assessment package, said the company had some 150 regular electronic filers.

‘When it comes to the crunch, people want someone else to be the guinea pig and enter the maze first,’ said Powell.

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