The charter stipulates all tax payers should be treated the same, an aspect that would be broken according to furious tax practitioners unless the discount is offered to agents as well as small businesses and individuals which submit electronically.
Inland Revenue officials have recently published details of the discounts, including discounts for individuals and small businesses – but with no mention of discounted returns filed by agents.
John Whiting, Chartered Institute of taxation vice-president and aPricewaterhouseCoopers tax partner said: ‘This ruling breaches the idea all taxpayers are the same because it is saying to taxpayers if you use a practitioner you are not eligible for the discount.’
He added: ‘Online filing runs the risk of failure if it does not apply to agents as it is more likely they will have the facilities to submit returns electronically.’
The scheme, which begins in April and will last for a year, offers a £10 discount to individuals who submit their return over the internet. A discount of £100 is available to small businesses that file their VAT returns or PAYE end-of-year returns electronically.
Discounts are being offered to encourage the use of the internet by individuals and businesses and according to experts, should produce long-term savings for the Revenue.
Richard Shooter, chairman of the Tax Monitoring Group, said he believed the discount ruling was ‘unfair’ and amounted to a breach of the Charter.He added: ‘The amount of discount offered is peanuts and has no credibility because it doesn’t give anything to agents. While according to the Revenue it may not have the facilities in place to be able to actually give the discount until January next year.’