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.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Trouble With Computers - Keying Errors

My thanks to a loyal reader who has advised me of a problem that his father in law (a pensioner) has experienced with HMRC.

His father in law recently received a hefty demand for underpaid tax on his pension income. He phoned HMRC, and had a conversation with a very helpful officer.

It seems that, on investigation by the officer, the person who entered the figures onto HMRC's computer from the paper return had added the tax deducted to the gross amount of the pension; the liability had then been calculated on that figure.

Now, there may be some who say that this problem could have been avoided if the taxpayer had not used "old fashioned" paper but filed his return online.

Three points to counter this argument:

1 Not everyone is connected to the net, nor computer savvy.

2 People have the right to submit paper returns.

3 The taxpayer, in this particular case, did initially try to file online. However, HMRC's system was not working at the time and so rather than waste any further time he filed a paper return.

The question is, how many other paper returns (especially those of taxpayers who may not be so tax "savvy") have had keying errors such as this which have not been spotted/flagged by the taxpayer?

Computers are only as good as the people who programme them and key in the data.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. "the person who entered the figures onto HMRC's computer from the paper return had added the tax deducted to the gross amount of the pension"

    I know for a fact that VAT/Tax forms keyed onto the departments system have to be "authorised" by a more senior officer. Im not saying that every single digit has to be checked.
    So even though "the person" made a keying error, the line manager wasnt able to detect the error either.

  2. A few years ago staff capturing returns had to look at the resultant under/overpayment and "reconcile" it, i.e. work out how it had arisen. This showed up any keying errors. But I suspect that the new breed of poorly trained clerical staff are not taught/expected to do this as it requires time spending on thinking and capture targets would be missed!

  3. so a figure got keyed in incorrectly, big deal happens all the time to anyone, everyone, no matter what job is done, thats life. a helpful officer spotted the mistake and put it right, whats the problem?