Taxes, Taxes, Who Has Paid Their Taxes?

Another interesting story from the UK from It seems that HM Revenue and Customs is having trouble matching pay and tax details to individual taxpayers - about 13 million of them or 32% of taxpayers.

To make matters more "interesting," Revenue and Customs is about to transfer taxpayer files from one computer system to another, before all the taxpayer discrepancies are resolved. A Revenue spokesperson said that at least 75% of taxpayers had paid the right amount of tax (gee, only a 1 out of 4 chance that you paid too much or too little) and that the "good news" was that the back log of open cases would be reduced to 10.5 million having discrepancies by April 2008. I hate to know what bad news means to Revenue and Customs.

The US Internal Revenue Service has had long-term problems itself in trying to achieve modernization, but I don't recall it ever having reached this level of poor data quality. Those of us in the US may complain about the IRS, but I think our friends in the UK should have our profound sympathy.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City