New Revenue IT failure.

Accountants have been warned to check clients’ national insurance contributions carefully as the Inland Revenue has received a rash of complaints over inaccurate calculations. A number of accountants said this week that they had faced problems with client national insurance contributions because of errors in the Revenue’s calculations. Several practitioners said they had been told of recurring ‘internal software problems’ by Revenue officials after finding class 4, NI contribution miscalculations. However, an official from the Revenue denied it was suffering software difficulties. ‘A general software problem is not something we are aware of. We are sure if we had a calculation problem within our systems it would have been picked up by now. ‘Accountants with general queries should contact their local tax office but if they are under the distinct impression any problems are down to our operational systems they should contact head office,’ the official said. Surrey-based accountant Laurence Chandler had experienced such problems. He said: ‘The Revenue issued me with a general confession that they had a problem with their software, and this has cost me time that we accountants cannot recover as a chargeable fee. In a recent case one of my clients with two businesses showed a schedule D profit of £11,498 along with a schedule D loss of £3,559 in the 1999 tax return. The Revenue calculated the class 4 contributions to be £251.28 as opposed to the correct liability of £37.74.’ Nobody at Revenue software provider EDS was available for comment at the time of going to press. The problems come as the government was warned efforts to introduce accessible and innovative agency websites are ‘patchy and relatively slow’. A National Audit Office report said the UK was ahead of other European governments until the mid-1990s when efforts began to ‘flag’. It also said most Whitehall websites – including the Benefits Agency and the social security department – are ‘hard to navigate’.

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