HMRC self assessment site taxed by user complaints

Back to paper as tax return system lets users down
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Back to paper as tax return system lets users down

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has received about 300 complaints from people who have been unable to view their tax information after logging into their account on its self assessment website.

Affected users are unable to view their previous years' self-assessment statements or tax returns, leaving them without access to some details they need to complete this year's self-assessment tax returns.

The problem has led people to request paper copies of previous years' statements and returns from their local tax office.

But HMRC has said that because local tax offices are very busy at this time of year it may take them longer than usual to send out paper copies of the information - which may cause people to miss the January 31 deadline for filing their tax returns online.

A spokeswoman for the HMRC said: "If anyone is unable to file on time because HMRC was unable to provide them with the information they need we would consider a claim that they had a reasonable excuse for not filing on time."

Under normal circumstances there is a £100 penalty for anyone who misses the deadline to complete their tax return online.

The spokeswoman said HMRC was working with its IT supplier Capgemini to fix the problems with the website, which have been affecting certain users for at least the past month.

In an unrelated incident the self assessment site was also unavailable for a couple of hours last Wednesday, leaving what HMRC called "a very small number of customers" unable to file their tax returns.

In 2008 HMRC had to extend its deadline for filing tax returns online after the self assessment website went down.

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