PracticePeople In PracticeBig Five warn against e-filing.

Big Five warn against e-filing.

Three of the Big Five firms have put the boot into government plans to encourage individuals to file self-assessment tax returns electronically by questioning the Inland Revenue's capability of handling e-filed returns.

The criticism comes as the Revenue was last month forced to put back the launch of self-assessment e-filing due to incomplete software testing.

In an embarrassing blow for the Revenue, Arthur Andersen this week said it is recommending clients to send returns by paper.

Tax partner Bill Dodwell, said: ‘The service will only suit very simple taxpayer affairs and not cover options such as capital gains and partnerships. We have sympathy for its situation but are waiting for the Revenue to up its capabilities before recommending e-filing.’

An E&Y spokesman, said: ‘Our view is not too dissimilar to Andersens’. The Revenue system has not proved to be exactly the most wonderful.’

PwC added: ‘We have not seen big benefits from e-filing so far but we look forward to this method fitting in more.’

However, Deloitte & Touche private client partner, Steve Midwinter, disagreed.

He said: ‘We welcome e-filing but recognise there have been problems, but I’m sure these will be ironed out soon.’

The Revenue remained upbeat. A spokesman said: ‘As far as our internet service is concerned, we have successfully launched the first component, enabling those interested to register their details. Over 40,000 people have registered so far in the first month. The technology is cutting edge.’

BILLIONS NEEDED TO GET PUBLIC SECTOR ONLINE Ministers have been told that they will need to provide #2.7bn for councils alone if they are to achieve their aim that all public sector bodies should be providing their services online by 2005. Barony, a consultancy firm, estimates #900m a year for three years is needed to get infra-structures in place to provide full services. The warning comes as the Electronic Communications Bill received Royal Assent last week. Analysis, page 8.

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