1 February 2005 The UK’s tax collector has been forced to extend the deadline and waive penalty fees as its computer systems buckled under the pressure of handling online tax returns.
Originally, the Inland Revenue had set a date of 31 January for the return of self assessment forms, but has been forced to extend the deadlines as hundreds of users found the online system inoperable. A new deadline has been set for 14 February.
Users reported that they experienced problems logging on and were not issued with receipts indicating the form had been accepted. Frequently users were left waiting for up to 10 minutes, waiting to see whether web pages had loaded.
The systems buckled under the burden of people trying to make online returns. In recent years, the numbers using the system has rocketed. Just 76,000 people submitted self assessments online in 2000-01. Yet on 27 January alone, 34,000 filed returns online. The total number this year is expected to top one million.
In a statement on its web site the Inland Revenue said: “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.”
The £100 fines and £60 per day penalties incurred for late submissions will be waived for those that attempted to file their forms in time, but were unable to because of the system failure.
But the Revenue warned that it had kept records of those that had attempted to use the system – anyone that has missed the 31 January deadline will still be fined.