Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/07/hmrc_tax_credit_upgrade/

HMRC tax credit database takes the week off

'We always do maintenance at the end of the tax year'

By Kelly Fiveash

Posted in Government, 7th April 2008 06:02 GMT

UK taxpayers hoping to talk to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about tax credit payments were left fuming last week because of a “routine upgrade” to its database.

An HMRC spokeswoman told The Register that the tax credit system had been taken offline - just before the end of the tax year - so the latest rates from Chancellor Alistair Darling's budget can be inputted.

In the meantime, individuals who contact the tax office were being told that their queries cannot be answered until early this week, because the files of individual cases are unavailable while the upgrade takes place.

The spokeswoman was at pains to say that the update was not related to any computer problem or glitch and added that the helpline is still available, albeit in a very limited capacity.

She told us that such an upgrade was routine at this time of year, and claimed that payments would not be affected by the system update.

“There has to be a time when we need to update this," said the spokeswoman. "Historically, this is the quietest time of year for such an upgrade to take place.” She was unable to explain, however, why it was necessary to completely down the system in order for the rates to be updated.

“We appreciate it’s frustrating for individuals that can’t get into their records at the moment.”

She also said that HMRC will contact anyone currently unable to access their details from Monday onwards when the system is expected to be back up and running.

The tax credit computer system falls under the remit of the Aspire contract, which is made up a group of big name tech firms that include Capgemini, Fujitsu and BT. ®