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Inland Revenue in online woe U-turn

Taxpayers affected by the Inland Revenue's server problems over the weekend are getting 14 days grace to file their returns
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

Inland Revenue is relaxing its policy that would have seen a £100 fine for many thousands of people who failed to file their tax returns online because government Web servers were too busy to accept them.

Inland Revenue (IR) admitted yesterday that its servers had slowed over the weekend because of a massive influx of people trying to file returns at the same time. But at the time it insisted that online users would still be liable for a £100 fine if they didn't file before yesterday's deadline of midnight.

On Tuesday, however, IR made a U-turn and promised that anyone who tried to send returns online would get a 14-day grace period to resubmit. Payments however, were still due yesterday.

A statement from Inland Revenue said, "We recognise that if the submissions failed our validation, you may be unable to rectify and resubmit before the deadline. We hold a complete record of all submissions over the weekend and if any of those failed submissions are re-submitted within 14 days of the date when we sent out the 'submission failed' message we will waive any late filing penalty notices."

IR apologised for any inconvenience, but made it clear that only people who had already tried to submit returns would have their fees waived. It said anyone trying to use the computer problems as an excuse to file late would be caught out.

"We apologise for the disruption to the service and can assure you that no details have been lost and there is no need to resubmit successful returns. If a customer is unable to resubmit a return in time to meet the deadline having received a message telling them that their return is invalid, we will allow them to resubmit their return within 14 days of the date of the message whilst waiving any penalty," the IR added

ZDNet UK Comment: Glitches such as the one suffered by the Inland Revenue this weekend can only damage the perception of e-government... There must be a better solution than an expensive advertising campaign that stresses a deadline, a back-end that gets swamped when people respond to that deadline, and a user base that gets fined for -- often blamelessly -- missing that deadline.

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