Self-assessment software dispute reaches climax

Self-assessment software dispute reaches climax

Tax software suppliers are meeting this week with the Inland Revenue to hammer out differences over self-assessment which could hit its proposed system for the electronic filing of tax returns. Disagreements have become pronounced over the last three months as more details of the Revenue’s plans to distribute its own tax software have emerged.

The meeting will see the Revenue attempt to calm fears in the industry that sales of its own products will be hit by its free software disk.

Software suppliers believe that the Revenue’s private sector partners, EDS and Racal, will have a substantial advantage over the tax software industry, not least because it could enclose an advert for the free software with every tax return the Revenue sends out.

Accountancy Age understands that this week’s discussions with the Revenue will include an ultimatum over the recent announcement that it will distribute free software to any taxpayer who wants it.

An ultimatum could force the Revenue’s hand. It badlly needs the software industry on board to make its electronic lodgement system work. The software industry supports plans for ELS, but without that support a key plank in the Revenue’s self-assessment programme could be put at risk.

Self-assessment programme director Doug Smith insisted the meeting was a scheduled, routine discussion between the Revenue and TASSA. He said: ‘I am confident that the electronic version of the return does not encroach on the tax software suppliers’ territory.’

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