HMRC takes tax forms offline

HM Revenue & Customs has taken major tax services offline for “essential maintenance”, prompting ire among accountants.

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HM Revenue & Customs has taken major tax services offline for “essential maintenance”, prompting ire among accountants.

From 8 o’clock this morning (Wednesday) for a 24-hour period, a number of key online forms are unavailable. These include self-assessment, pay as you earn, VAT, corporation tax, inheritance tax, stamp duty, pension schemes and child benefits. Some export and oils tax forms will be unavailable at the weekend instead.

Those submitting PAYE and self assessment forms online will receive a delay to their acceptance or rejection responses. For the other areas people will not be able to use HMRC software, but can use their own systems.

An HMRC spokesperson today told Computerworld UK: “This is routine maintenance, not a system upgrade. This is normal for websites.”

The spokesperson denied it was the case that HMRC was picking an August date because of quieter website traffic levels, saying the maintenance was routine and needed to take place.

But the move has already attracted ire among accountants, some of whom say they did not have much warning. Tina Riches, technical director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said the industry body for chartered tax advisers had written to HMRC yesterday to complain about the problem.

“We were only given 24 hours notice,” she said. “Admittedly they normally only do this at weekends, but we’ve stressed how difficult this could be.”

Riches said she had not received an explanation for the timing. “A number of our members have told us how frustrated they are,” she said. “For some smaller members it’s a delay and an irritation. The main problem is for the larger firms who have staff dedicated to tax returns.”