Online tax return filing is up by 48%

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The Inland Revenue received almost 1.6m tax returns electronically by last month's self assessment deadline, a 48% increase on last year.

A Revenue spokesman told TaxZone that 1,599,364 returns were filed electronically, including those submitted via the Electronic Lodgement Service.

Almost 1.1m self assessment returns were filed electronically last year, including more than 700,000 via SA Online and almost 400,000 via ELS.

The increase will be welcomed by the Revenue and online filing enthusiasts. The Revenue reported last Autumn that following recent improvements to SA Online, individual taxpayers or their agents could now:

  • submit tax returns

  • view their overall liability, and see at a detailed level the liabilities and payments for the previous six years

  • view and amend their S...

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22nd Feb 2005 10:29

it's the budget's fault
Part of the problem is that the real window for e-filing is not 9 months, but between 4 and 5 months if you rely, as we do, on Iris software.

My firm tends to deal with tax returns at the same time as the business accounts. Work on those with January to March year-ends suffers an enforced delay while the software developers create the software we need to e-file.

My solution is that the budget should be drawn back to November, as it was with the last Conservative government. A November 2005 budget, with Royal Assent in late January 2006 would allow for the 2005-2006 Tax Return to be designed, and provided in sufficient time for the software companies to make the necessary changes to their products. We would receive a useable upgrade in April and could get on with the compliance.

It is suggested that the Treasury preferred a March budget so that loopholes could be closed more effectively, instead of giving three or four months notice of what was to happen.

The cost benefits of having electronic submission can be weighed against the small loss of tax from the activities of a few individuals seeking devious ways to mitigate their liabilities..... but then this Chancellor does rather have a bee in his bonnet about everyone paying the "right" amount of tax.

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14th Feb 2005 15:39

How about...............

.....0.1% knocked of the tax liability for each complete month before the filing deadline.

So a return submitted in September with taxable income and gains of say £30k would have 0.4% (Oct, Nov, Dec & Jan) or £120 knocked off the tax bill.

This would be a good incentive for the bigger clients with high tax liabilities. Say if the same return had taxable income /gains of £1million the incentive would be £4k

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14th Feb 2005 12:54

I dont agree
I dont think that a mere £20 saving would convince any of my tardier clients to bring their info in to me by end may! It usually takes at least 3 letters and several phone calls to get the stuff in by Dec/Jan.I think £1000 may help but otherwise forget it!!

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15th Feb 2005 11:11

Higher penalties
Well I'd like to enjoy Christmas for once so controversially I'd like to suggest bringing forward the deadline to 30 November, leave the payment dates as they are and raise the penalty for late filing to £1000!
It doesn't matter when the deadline is there will still be a rush. Spreading the workload by accounting year ends won't work as there are so many non self-employed tax return cases and I can only begin to imagine the nightmare scenarios that would arise on commencement and cessation. Spreading by UTR number is quite a good idea but you would have to wait to be issued with one to have any idea and certainty over when you were due to file a return (not exactly the idea under Self Assessment)

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By ACDWebb
17th Feb 2005 14:16

I do not think that moving to 3o Nov will help much.

What about all the clients who have moved to 31/March - 5 April accounting dates who will no doubt then want to change back to a dat that will give a longer a/cs prep time.

If you want to see Christmas then do what we have done and set clear deadlines for submission of papers by the client to you with a guarantee that if all papers are received by "say" 31 October then you will ensure that the return is prepared ready for submission by the filing date, otherwise you cannot guarantee to do so.

If you do that and regularly follow up with reminders - which can probably be reasonably automated from return software and status logging - then you should be able to find time at Christmas with a clear conscience that you have done your best.

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By ringi
14th Feb 2005 12:27

Incentive to file online early.
Why not provide an incentive to people that file on line. Say £20 for anyone that files on line before the end of May, reducing by £1 for every two weeks they file after that date. This should help to spread out the load on the system.

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By Anonymous
14th Feb 2005 17:24

No Incentive To File & Pay
If it is true that most cases for enquiry are decided by 5 April each year then the filing deadline is only an administrative one in importance.Other than the extra £100 here and there to Inland Revenue. So why dont they go with the Corporation Tax rule of 1 year from the filing date? Seems sensible to spread their workload. That way its not all during festivities, holidays etc. A deadline is a deadline so any talk of you had all 5 Apr - 31 Jan to file is only sneaky Pete speak.

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17th Feb 2005 11:14

Questions about SA Online site performance in late January
On 9 February, AccountingWEB submitted a set of questions to the Revenue seeking to establish if a review of SA Online's technical performance in January had been undertaken, and whether extra measures were needed to ensure better performance next year. Here are the questions, with the Revenue's responses in bold below:

1. What peak load did the Revenue plan for and was this exceeded? Did the systems that were in place perform up to expectations?
Our IT partners ASPIRE have carried out a root cause analysis. The problems encountered over the weekend of 29/30 Jan (whereby customers did not receive responses to submissions) were not load-related but did create extra load as we had normal projected volumes plus customers returning to check status. We did carry out capacity planning & volumetrics testing.

2. What contingency measures did the Revenue take to deal with the expected rise in demand? Were extra mirror sites/web services available to handle the workload?
As above - the problems encountered were not capacity ones. No extra mirror sites/web services were available.

3. What maintenance work was undertaken on the evening of Saturday 30 January? Does this mean that the maintenance activity undertaken in December was not sufficient to cope with the peak-load demand?
There was no maintenance undertaken on Saturday January 30th.

4. Can you provide an explanation for what appears to be inconsistent online messages and explanations from the helpdesk over the final few days?
The service was available throughout Jan, but we acknowledge that there were some customers experiencing slow response times. The responses you mention [such as the "Unavilable due to maintenance", "Remote call procedure failed", and "Page cannot be displayed"] appear to be browser driven as we did not put any of these messages out during the peak weekend.

5. What lessons has the Inland Revenue derived from the experience and what plans are in hand to cater for demand next year?
We always work closely with our IT partners to look at capacity planning & volumetrics & will continue to do so. In addition we will work closely with our IT partners to make sure that the problems we experienced with the
success/failure messages do not recur next year.

6. Do you have any response to our members' comments and suggestions to improve handling of 64-8 forms (which appears to be causing frustration for agents for SA, PAYE and NICs)?
The Inland Revenue has commissioned a piece of work surrounding agents & will soon be addressing the whole 'Agent portfolio' with a view to streamlining & improving the Agent experience within the Online services.

John Stokdyk

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By Anonymous
15th Feb 2005 07:28

Barry, the way that you've presented your idea is that clients gain for filing early.

From the clients' point of view of course, they will lose for every month that the return isn't filed. Guess who'll get the blame for that? Taken 31 days to do my accounts - I'm claiming for loss of incentive, even though I took a week to come back with the stock figure!

No thanks!

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