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Oh dear. The Inland Revenue suspended its online tax-self assessment service yesterday after users complained that they could see the tax returns of other people when they logged on to the site.

The IR doesn't know when the supposedly password-protected service will be back up and running. The software used for online tax self-assessment in the UK is developed by EZGov, a US company; EDS, the computer arm of the UK government, has overall responsibility for the IR's IT.

This security breach is a serious embarrassment for the government which is spending huge sums on e-learning to encourage people to adopt its online services. Also, the government is threatening fines in the future of up to £3,000 in the future to employers which fail to file tax returns and PAYE electronically. ®

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