The Inland Revenue has been caught red faced again after more than 20,000 people who filed tax returns on time wrongly received £100 penalty notices.
The Revenue blamed inputting and computer problems for the mix up. A spokeswoman said, "We are still investigating the problem at the moment. There have been some system inputting errors and computer problems. It is a mistake for which we are extremely sorry."
The Revenue advises that those who have wrongly received the notice should contact a tax office where the penalty will be cancelled immediately.
"We aim to be 100% accurate in everything we do. But in our annual report we have a target of a 77% accurancy rate for tax self assessment. This is measured against nine different factors, from receipt to capture, and if it deviates from these then it is counted as inaccurate."
Simon Burton, director at accountancy firm planIT said, "Basically the Inland Revenue has turned on a number of systems to increase the amount of tax revenue that they gain and lower costs. But in turning them on, it has not been prepared technologically or in terms of manpower."
Burton advises that if a contractor has an accountant to do his self assessment, then that accountant is responsible for backing up his claims, should the Revenue query the calculations. "If a Government has got such sweeping powers as the Revenue and is over stretched, then why take the risk doing it yourself?"
What with recent revelation by the National Audit Office that the new National Insurance computer may not be operating fully until June 2001, it looks like there's far more trouble ahead in both the tax and the NI departments.