News reports from the UK are indicating problems with the new Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) computer systems.
According to this story in the Yorkshire Post, 186,115 veterans and war widows received letters from HMRC saying that they will be now taxed on their war pensions.
The letters were in error, but to avoid being hit with a 20 percent tax, each veteran and war widow is going to have to contact HMRC to correct the error. The HMRC is not going to fix it otherwise, it says.
In a similar vein, a story in Computing.co.uk says that an unknown number of UK taxpayers will likely be paying too much tax because of another issue with the HMRC computers. For unexplained reasons, the story says that "... the HMRC database appears to have lost information it holds about people leaving jobs and as a result is combining taxpayers’ current employment records with old data. It is concluding that they have two jobs, thus putting them in a higher tax bracket ..."
Again, it will be up to individual UK taxpayers to inform the HMRC that they have a problem and then hope that the HMRC eventually corrects it.
Even that may be hard to do. A story in FinancialAdvice.co.uk says that some taxpayers have received up to three different tax codes from the HMRC, all of which are wrong.
In the Yorkshire Post story, an HMRC spokesperson said that the new HMRC computer process "would significantly reduce both over- and underpayments" - by whom, he didn't say - while in the Computing.co.uk story, an HMRC spokesperson "insisted the IT behind the new system is working as it should."
That's a scary thought.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.