Peter Willey, head of personal tax at Ernst & Young told the Sunday Times that the system was a complex nightmare ‘written for tax collectors, not taxpayers’.
E&Y calculated it would take a minimum of four hours for higher-rate taxpayers to work out their tax liability, and would involve the completing of 90 boxes of information, and the ticking of an additional 400 boxes.
This complexity has been blamed for the record number of late filers. At the beginning of today, three million taxpayers out of the 9.1 million who registered for self-assessment, had yet to submit their tax forms.
Those who do not file returns by 31 January will face an immediate £100 penalty, with the an expected 800,000 taxpayers set to miss the deadline.
It has been estimated that the Revenue has collected at least Pounds 1bn in penalties from the late return of self-assessment forms in the past three tax years.
The Sunday Times said the Revenue was struggling to cope with the workload with one-third of returns being completed inaccurately. The Revenue, along with Customs, was recently was given new powers to pursue tax dodgers. Many experts fear that innocent people, who miscalculate their tax, could find themselves in court due to the incomprehensible tax laws.
The situation has not been helped by a numerous problems with online filing. Despite the Revenue reaching the halfway point in its Pounds 2bn internet development programme, official figures show just 33,874 self-assessment returns have been filed electronically, although 123,588 taxpayers have registered with the service. The Revenue had hoped 300,000 taxpayers would register to file online in the first year.
Last week the Revenue unveiled a new initiative, called Tax Central, which it hopes will simplify the process of e-filing self-assessment returns and increase the number of taxpayers who use the service.
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