E-envoy slams online tax service

In an interview with sister publication Computing, e-Envoy Andrew Pinder said of the first year of online tax returns: ‘None of us feels that it was a success. You had to fill it in with lots of reference numbers and if you got anything wrong you had to start again. It was not exactly user friendly.’

However, he said this year’s technology would be interactive and online. ‘Sowe will see – we all have our fingers crossed for something better than lastyear’s performance. If you can offer something that is easier for people, thenthat is how you will sell these things,’ he said.

This year, Pinder said, he is focusing on a customer for the delivery of services rather than working by department. He said the government is in talks with private sector companies such as accounting software companies to bundle government services with services they already offer.

For the last financial year, only 30,000 people submitted their self-assessment returns electronically ahead of the 31 January deadline – although 120,000 taxpayers registered to file returns online.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants said earlier this year thefirst year of the Inland Revenue collecting taxes online had resulted in ‘widespread failure’.

Among the types of problems experienced were delays in processing returns (73%),supplementary information provided on the return being ignored (64%), and,worryingly, Inland Revenue computers crashing or otherwise out of use (59%).


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