Same old HMRC web gremlins plague tax agents

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With self assessment season upon us, members have been reporting on the recurrence of some well known problems with HMRC's online services. John Stokdyk investigates.

The self assessment tax season has come early this year. Thanks to Lord Carter of Coles and his online efficiency proposals, there is just over a week to go before the new 31 October deadline for filing paper self assessment returns.

For thousands of practitioners across the land, the three months that follow will be dominated by the annual slog through client records and the electronic assault course of HMRC's online filing mechanisms.

As well as shortening the deadlines for paper filing, Lord Carter's 2006 review of HMRC online services demanded that robustness and adeq...

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By Anonymous
30th Oct 2008 09:20

Correct but ....
Stuart - whilst your scenario is quite correct about EDS the original comment was not unfair; just reality and EDS, Accenture et al do seem to be associated with a great many major disasters

Isn't everyone an analyst nowadays? The problem is that 'Analyst' has become a 'catch all' debased term including those who are not suited to the task

I was once subject to an outsourcing deal by one of the big 5(4) and EDS was the preferred target. Having taken one look at the EDS structure & calibre of staff I subsequently voted with my feet, because the entire organisation seemed to consist of 'not true time served I.T. people', just a disparate collection of other outsourced staff running around like 'headless chickens' & burying everyone in paperwork (backside covering sign offs to the nth... degree).

This is one of the problems with TUPE, although to be equitable all round there is really no alternative approach to protecting employees’ jobs. No matter how unsuited they are to the role, the company taking them on can be lumbered with dross. Nevertheless it is a good way for firms to offload low calibre staff; unfortunately they don't seem to realise that these identical people are re-assigned back to them because the same 'experts' who were on the original company payroll have specific company knowledge; whether they are experienced or suited to the role is immaterial!

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By TC1
29th Oct 2008 16:26

VAT surcharge
Re. Sien Cheng's comment 23 October 2008:
I agree that this pettiness is ridiculous. BUT if you can't beat them, join them. I now pay by DD. HMRC don't take the money until the 9th or later, which means I get about 5 more days' interest on my money and I can't be late with the payment. So all I have to do to avoid penalties is my Return online by 2 minutes to midnight on the last day of the month, and make sure there's money in my bank by 9th.

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29th Oct 2008 15:50

Late filing penalties
With most penalties at £100 per month, it seems to be at HMRC's discretion when they choose to issue a reminder for a missing Return, whether it be P35, P11d(b), etc - surely they should be under an obligation to issue reminders after 2 months at the latest rather than increase their revenue by delaying until it suits them.

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29th Oct 2008 12:20

Systemic Collapse 2
Yes, it's the same ol' same ol' problems that are never addressed.

All the politicoes do is come up with yet mre half-arsed legislation to pile on a few more problems atop every year.

Yes, Revenue staff are increasingly despairing of a system that they cannot bypass or look at fully themselves, even if they know what the problem is.

It seems in some districts, there is no way of complaining about the complaints procedure which is clearly based on the f-plan system. As in "off", that is.

Now one would have thought that the recent experience in banking circles might just have alerted some bright spark in control to the dangers of a system that's clearly gone out of hand, as is the case with HMRC.

Has anyone spotted the deliberate error in that last sentence?

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By Anonymous
24th Oct 2008 09:45

Same boat as PFI ....
Presumably its the same old culprits with the like of EDS etc in the frame? Frankly they should be assessed on performance and black listed from all future Govt contracts


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24th Oct 2008 07:59

Public Enquiry

Yes - a farce is what you get when you try and do things 'on the cheap'. Unfortunately cheap stuff costs more in the long run - as some people never learn and keep on buying more cheap stuff to replace the last one that didn't work.

Isn't it time we had a Public Enquiry into this? Who is responsible for authorising the expenditure of millions upon millions of taxpayers money on systems that appear to be held together with bits of string and plaster?

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By Anonymous
23rd Oct 2008 16:42

Security or Over Validation...?
Not withstanding workloads and other delays, an HMRC employee, who was obviously as frustrated as I was, told me recently, 'you have to set up 2 records PAYE and SA and it takes a minimum of 5 days for information to flow from one to another.' (longer if there's a weekend or its after 4:30pm.) then the records are supposed to link up, but only if 4 or 5 things match exactly.

It seems to me that all HMRC computer systems are written in the belief that everyone WILL get it right first time, because that's what they are supposed to do - as a consequence when anything does go wrong its a bugger[***] to put it right and it is the customer who pays the price in delays and angry clients.

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By sycheng
23rd Oct 2008 14:33

VAT surcharge
We are reliably informed that the Government is trying very hard to help SME's and yet, HMRC is being very strict about applying the rules. As a company who always submit its returns on time and pays its VAT liability by BACS, we were sent a surcharge liabilty at 2% of the amount due because instead of being in HMRC's bank on the 7th, which happened to be a Sunday, the amount was credited to HMRC on the 8th. How fair is this? Is there no more commonsense in this country?

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