In January, I blogged about complaints involving the new Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) computer systems that combines information on National Insurance contributions and Pay As you Earn (PAYE) for the first time. At the time, several news reports were warning that many UK taxpayers would likely be paying too much tax this year for a whole host of reasons such as being placed in an incorrect tax bracket because of errors in the HMRC database.
At the time, the HMRC downplayed the complaints and warnings and "insisted the IT behind the new system is working as it should."
Well, now the HMRC is admitting that at least 100,000 taxpayers have erroneously paid too much tax because of errors in - surprise, surprise - its computer systems.
According to this story in the London Telegraph, the HMRC also says that pensioners are the hardest group hit since they have the most complicated tax codes.
The Telegraph story goes on to say that,
"Examples of errors include people having their personal tax allowances removed, being placed on higher tax codes or even having a '1' inserted in front of their salary, erroneously inflating up their taxable income by £100,000."
In other words, problems the HMRC was warned about in January along with some new ones.
In addition, the Telegraph reports that taxpayers are having a hard time getting through to HMRC help lines, and are sometimes being cut-off before they can report their problems.
An HMRC spokesperson was quoted in the Telegraph story as saying that the HMRC apologized for the problems, and that, "Unfortunately with a project of this scale things will occasionally go wrong..."
I guess what that means is that HMRC IT systems "occasionally" going wrong implies that they are working exactly as they should.
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.