HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Infamy, Infamy, They've All Got It In For Me! II

Dave Hartnett
In March of this year, Dave Hartnett the "nearly man" of HMRC and acting Chairman spoke at an ICAEW Tax Faculty event and addressed the highly embarrassing subject (embarrassing to HMRC anyway) of the online tax filing system crash at the end of January which forced HMRC to extend its filing deadline by a day.

In Hartnett's view this was not an accident, most certainly it was not the fault of HMRC or its IT system.

The real cause?

Deliberate Conspiracy!

Seemingly, according to Hartnett, there had been a mysterious "spike" at 11.10pm on the night of Wednesday 30 January when a number of users (a mere 6,500 users) had all come on to the system for a few seconds, but none actually filed.

Hartnett would not comment further on the issue, except to say that he would share details with the tax world when more was known.

I did note at the time that it was unlikely that even had this been a deliberate denial of service attack (DOS), 6,500 would not have caused a professional, well run IT system to crash.

Computer Says No

However, it now transpires that the "nearly man" was talking...errmmm...using my favourite accounting phrase here...


HMRC now report that is has "categorically established" that there was no attempt to hack into its online filing system on the evening that its computers crashed.

A Revenue spokeswoman said:

"We have now undertaken a thorough investigation into the problems that occurred and have categorically established there was no hacking attempt on the online filing system.

Our investigations show that customers were carrying out a number of activities in relation to their tax returns.

The number filing in the peak period is consistent with filing patterns for earlier years

Therefore there are two questions that remain unresolved (unresolved publicly at least):

1 Why did the "nearly man" claim that the system had been subject to a DOS attack? Is it possible that the leadership of HMRC don't understand how IT systems operate?

2 Why did the system crash?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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