Tax advisers angry at HMRC call for after hours filing

Tax advisers have again been asked to work outside their normal hours as the
number of online filings looks set to surge to three million this year.

New figures released by HM Revenue & Customs show that tax advisers are
in particular driving the internet filings.

More than 900,000 SA online filings had already been made by September,
according to HMRC figures, representing a huge 53% leap compared with the same
time last year.

A spokesman for the tax authority said the increases could be coped with. ‘We
anticipate that online filing will increase by around 30% this year, mainly
driven by significant increases in agents’ use of online filing.

‘Although we plan for the expected increases, handling this volume of
activity always presents some risks. We would ask our agent customers to ensure
they file early to minimise that risk; but if that isn’t possible, to file
outside peak times, if at all possible.’

But ICAS assistant director of tax Donald Drysdale said that demands to file
outside working hours were a failure to deal with commercial reality.

‘Requests to file in the middle of the night or at weekends are ridiculous.
Some firms have had to hire staff to undertake filing outside of peak hours ­
this is not good news.’

More recent figures, up to the first week of November, show that 1.2 million
filings have been made online, a 40% increase on the year before. The number of
online returns received passed the one million mark on 16 October, with the same
barrier only being passed in December last year.

About two million people filed online last year, which was an increase of 24%
on the previous year. The tax authorities are pushing the service hard in an
attempt to cut costs, a key requirement of the Gershon review.

HMRC said it saves £5 a return for online over hard copy. Online filing went
relatively smoothly last year, aside from problems arising close to the filing
deadline when systems were slower.

Advisers were asked to file outside peak hours, a request that HM Revenue
& Customs has renewed this year.

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