HMRC Service (un)availability | AccountingWEB

HMRC Service (un)availability

So here I am on the 7th of the month, 9.30pm ready to submit my client's VAT return.

Press the button: Submission failure!

Check the Revenue website. Scheduled maintenance from 9pm until 1am in the morning.

Okay I know there will be plenty out there saying, "should have done it sooner" or "should have checked the service availabilty first". But if there is a deadline that the Revenue set then shouldn't they be available up until that deadline to receive submissions?

The Revenue are getting very hot on compliance and deadlines with automatic penalties for any failure to delver. Can I send them a penalty notice for not being ready to receive?


Old Greying Accountant's picture

Ah, if only you had read ....

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... my post here "and there's more".

I was lucky enough to stumble on this fact whilst making a routine call to the advice line.

It wasn't very well publicised and I would certainly try reasonable grounds if you get a penalty, it is on the service availablity page but one doesn't have time to check that AT the least it should be on teh nome page, and at the best they should e-mail all agents if there is to be scheduled downtime at key times.

Personally I feel it is untenable that maintenance should be scheduled around deadlines which have draconian penalties attaching to them.


AnnaKournikovasKnickers's picture

HMRC Service Interruptions

AnnaKournikovas... | | Permalink

Why does HMRC go out of it's way to alienate it's 'customers'? They should learn from the mistakes of Tesco. They alienated Anthony Worrell Thomson so much that he won't go in there any more. It's not good business. I, myself have switched to Sainsburys and there must be many more like me.

Sadly there is only one HMRC

pauljohnston | | Permalink

so you have to endure poor service impossible deadlines and problems as above.

I wonder if paying our taxes to the French Inland Revenue may make things better.............

AnnaKournikovasKnickers's picture

French Inland Revenue

AnnaKournikovas... | | Permalink

Just think what their 'Working Together' buffets would be like! We in our WT group get mouldy biscuits and insepid tea (If we are lucky!

AnnaKournikovasKnickers's picture

French Inland Revenue- secret copy - Working Together

AnnaKournikovas... | | Permalink

Texes De France - Réunion Collaborant – Lundi Juillet 01 2010

Le Agenda

  1. Afaires - 15 minutes


  1. Déjeunez - 3 heures


Ballotine of Tete de Veau

Swede Puree and Chorizo

Smoked Mackerel Beignet and Horseradish

Sauternes Ice Cream

Perrier-Jouet, Brut, NV


HMRC and communication

I too was trying to file VAT returns  - the last two for the month-  at 9.30 last night to then find out about the scheduled down time.  Main points are:

1) Why on earth is downtime scheduled for a filing deadline in the first place - sure they KNOW 7th of every month is VAT filing?  It is THEIR system and penalty regime after all!  The assumption that everyone should have filed by 9pm is irrelevant - the deadline is midnight on 7th - not 9pm and they have their history to show those extra 3 hours are used by many people.They should never schedule maintance for last day of month, 7th of month or 19th May since these are key deadlines for CT, VAT or PAYE with heavy penalties for non-compliance.  Now they will send out surcharge notice etc - taking computer time - then we will have to appeal on the basis of unavailability - I have the timed receipt of when I tried to log on - our time cost - then they will have to review - their time cost - complete waste of time and money when all they need to do was start the work 3 hours later. As a taxpayer and agent I strongly object to all of this waste.

2) If they really had to do this maintenance then - and I can think of no earthly reason why it should - then it should have been heavily publicised on the website at the very least - if not emailed out to all agents and taxpayers with returns due.  They handled the change of deadline very well for SA - why should VAT be ignored?  Not the general public - just business I suppose! If Companies House ever have downtime it is on the website days in advance - the first thing you see as you go in - why can HMRC not be open about things?  I suppose someone with a brain realised it would be embarrassing to tell people their lack of forethought and hoped the issue would not go public.


vdeepan3 | | Permalink

I was trying to login to the system from 9pm until 11.45pm.. no luck! 

DMGbus's picture

For the future...

DMGbus | | Permalink

If it really is necessary to do last minute filings then check beforehand (yes, plan ahead) on the following HMRC webpage:



As it happens, one way or another, I was aware of the 9pm shutdown some time before it happened from some other HMRC announcement I saw and planned accordingly.

Agree with the comments that it was bad practice to have the downtime when they did, bearing in mind the above webpage states some further planned downtime (affecting other VAT aspects, but NOT online filing) if HMRC had management with a grain a sense, then surely the non-filing aspect could have been dealt with on 7th March instead of at a later date in March.






Old Greying Accountant's picture

Don't you just hate smug people ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... you have such a tight window for VAT all the planning in the world can't always help.

Not only does the client have to get the stuff to you, he may be waiting on third parties for documents etc etc, and some just the sheer volume of transactions to deal with make it a constant treadmill of processing that can't be accelerated.

And that is before the unexpected things like computers crashing, staff illness etc etc.

So there is absolutely no justification for HMRC to have planned downtime around any deadline, especially one that has such dire penalies attached, and one that they have forced you to do online anyway.

So yes, I know they tell you of planned downtime, but as I said above if you checked every single thing routinely there would be no time to actually do the work, and I don't think any sane rational person could possibly have expected that even HMRC would be so stupid as to plan to close a window at such a time.

Final word, you have to midnight on the 7th to file so you should be able to, same as you should be able to file all your SA's on 31st Jan if you choose.


pauljohnston | | Permalink

You make you very valid points.  Clearly it was stupidity to bring in the changes on the final filing day.

I really dont go with the idea that you should check. When deadlines are involved I expect HMRC to now when these are (especially as they set them) and plan accordingly.   Either by not messing up or by moving the filing date forward.

I hope someone at HMRC with power has made the person and the team around therm very aware.  How many people are going to submit appeals.  The costs in time are going to be high.


DMGbus's picture

Next downtime announced on 12th March...

DMGbus | | Permalink 

12 MarchVAT online service downtime

The VAT online service will be unavailable from 00.01 on Sunday 8 April until 06.00 on Wednesday 11 April. (2012)


So, no problems for 29 Feb 2012 returns this time!

Nor for ECSL's for q/e 31 March 2012 (due online by 21 April 2012).

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