back to article MPs slap HMRC for lack of joined-up IT

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has said it cannot afford the £250m required to join up its disparate IT systems so it could create a single tax record for every taxpayer. The Public Accounts Committee investigated how the Revenue could do a better job of dealing with tax debt. The Revenue was owed £17.3bn on 31 March 2008, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much is it REALLY owed

    6 years ago I opened a bank account in the UK expecting to go there. My wife was refused a visa at the Paris embassy and so I changed my mind.

    HMRC receives information on bank accounts now, courtesy of SnoopLabour and started issuing tax returns and penalties for not filling them in. Of course when I found out, I closed the now dormant account. I am not resident and so not liable for UK tax.

    So you say the tax man is owed lots of money? Perhaps in it's own mind. However they're smart enough not to spend billions chasing money they know isn't really owed.

    But it's interesting to see that bank account information is sent to HMRC (presumably also balances and interest). And that HMRC presumes tax residence if you open an account there and starts issuing penalties automatically.

    So for all the non joined up databases they have they seems to issue a lot of false tax returns and seem to have far too much information already.

    I'm not sure why British people let their banks disclose their private information to the tax office, perhaps SnoopLabour did it without telling them?

  2. Nigel
    Thumb Down

    I wonder ...

    I wonder if they've ever considered something much simpler than constructing some complex, expensive, and almost-certainly-doomed-to-fail system for unifying all the taxpayer information (just in time for the next chancellor to introduce some wonderful new tax that the system isn't designed for).

    How about rewarding taxpayers for paying on time? Maybe with a few free premium bonds (a few quid to the hard-up, but occasionaly serious money to those that hang onto them).

    Carrots usually work better than sticks.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Statutory Instrument 2003 No.3297

    Ahh yes indeed, they did not tell you they were going to take a look at your bank accounts, you did not get to vote on it, and it was done by statutory instrument by Snooplabour in 2003:

    Another case of policy washing, they demanded it from the EU, got it at EU level, then bypassed Parliament by implementing the EU directive as a statutory instrument thus bypassing that nuisance democracy thing.

    Nice to know that your government likes to check up on your income, for purely tax purposes you understand. It has to ensure that the 30p in taxes due on the piffling token bank interest is properly paid!

  4. Paul
    Thumb Down

    So let me get this straight...

    ...EDS agreed to give the government money, but only if the government gave them even more.

    Nuts, utterly nuts. No wonder EDS and the like love doing business with the government, even when they screw up they get to extract even more money from us.

  5. Conor Turton

    As a victim of this...

    I am currently a victim of this farce. I submitted a P50 in February for a tax refund made slightly complicated by having 3 P45's due to agency work. My tax records travelled round 3 tax offices but in the meantime, I claimed ESA so they finally ended up in Leicester, office number 4. Leicester now want some confirmation from one of the previous tax offices so HAS HAD TO WRITE TO THEM requesting it. The office supplying the information as of last week WAS STILL OPENING POST FROM THE END OF MARCH. So that's added another 8 weeks delay.

    So for the tax rebate I put in for in February, I'll hopefully - but they can't guarantee it - see a refund some time in August. Had it been all linked, I should have had my refund in February or March.

    Interesting to note though that if they owe you money, they co

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Ah good...

    ... it is about time the last bastions of uncivil servitude were tackled and HMRC makes for a good start.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just hang on one minute, please...

    HMRC "was also criticised for not measuring how cost-effective its various debt collection activities were"... I think I'm actually quite glad about that, at one level. At the moment the HMRC can (and does try to) threaten 'little people' into just paying up and so "£ recovered/£ spent" is quite high. As soon as they start looking at bigger debts then the threat tends not to work either because of the traditional Churchillian jesture or lawyers/accountants. Only if there is a specific reason (eg IR35) or the debt is big enough and the probability of payment high will big debt be persued with any vigour and cash. It would actually be quite interesting to have revealed to the public how effective HMRC are at getting debt of the wealthy but I suspect that is not what they mean by "various debt collection activities" nor will we ever be told how effective they are.

  8. Old Tom

    It's not just about tax debt

    HMRC know all about my and my partner's income. We all have a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) allocated to us. Why the hell, then do I have to declare a subset of the information HMRC already have attached to my UTR in a separate form for HMRC's Tax Credits office? Can't they use IT?

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