Feeds

UK business to embrace electronic filing – by law

Nothing like a £3,000 fine to encourage e-government uptake...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

How do you get people to embrace e-government? Easy-peasy, you make it compulsory. The Guardian has spotted a clause tacked on to the end of the government's finance bill which is intended to do that very thing, levying a fine of up to £3,000 on businesses who don't file their tax returns electronically.

Perplexingly, the Graun's electronic version of the story is different from the paper one, and is written by an entirely different person, an unfortunate side-effect of this being that you miss the hilarious suggestion by the Treasury spokeswoman that you could always file your returns from a library or an internet cafe. This security-conscious tip is sadly only available in the dead tree edition.

There appear to be two deadlines for switching to electronic filing. Larger companies will have to make the move earlier, probably around 2006, smaller firms will have until 2010, by which time we suppose the UK Government Gateway might even support a sufficiently broad range of digital certificates for Mac and Linux users to be able to use the electronic filing service in the first place.

The Inland Revenue, in common with everbody else, is supposed to have all its services online by the end of 2005, and has a target of 50 per cent take-up by that point. The introduction of the big stick in 2006 would therefore have a certain stalinist utility to it.

But a National Audit Office report published earlier this year (e-Revenue) described this as ambitious and, "based on progress so far and experience elsewhere... unlikely to be achieved." The report noted that 660 businesses had made enquiries about electronic filing, and 49 had taken it up. This is nowhere near as dismal as it sounds, because they include payroll bureaux representing 5,000 companies, so a total of 6 million employees is now covered.

Take-up of the self assessment internet service has however been awful. 39,500 used it for tax year 1999-2000, against a target of 315,000, and as of 4th January just over 50,000 had filed for 2000-2001, which doesn't look hopeful for the target of 200,000. Note also that as many accounting firms will be filing electronically on behalf of individuals, these numbers are probably worse than they look. But threatening to fine everybody, not just businesses, is probably unacceptable. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.