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HMRC can't have their cake and eat it

I wrote about the UK Government Gateway last week http://www.finextra.com/community/fullblog.aspx?id=2424

This week the HMRC came under fire over site security http://newswires.vnunet.co.uk/c/1ey330huZqV9pWmp

In the latter article the HMRC said that the URL does not contain the password but shows a Unique Taxpayer Record (UTR) which is not based upon the password.

True - but - you aren't allowed to register for Self Assessment without knowing your UTR as well as your NI Number. If you phone HMRC and identify yourself with your Name, Address, Date of Birth & NI No, they still can't tell you your UTR over the phone or e-mail to you, you have to wait whilst they post it to you.

So either it is 'sensitive', and shouldn't appear in the URL, or its not 'sensitive', and in which case why couldn't they tell me it over the phone or e-mail it to me?

Now the latest and greatest errors within the Self Assessment system.

My personal details weren't populated correctly, so I had to update my First & Middle Names (they've been the same for 55 years).

When I entered my Gross Salary to 2 decimal places, it rounded it to the nearest pound, but retained the 0.00. However when I went onto the following fields, if I entered 0.00 rather than leave them blank, they weren't clever enough to accept that, but flagged it as an error and made me go back and blank it out.

When I was invited to enter my Bank Account details in case I was due a Tax Refund, I entered my Bank Sort Code in the format 12-34-56. This was rejected as Bank Sort Code must be 6 digits. However I wondered why then it had allowed me to enter the 8 characters in the first place? So I did a test to see when it determined the field was full - and found you can enter at least 15 characters in the Bank Sort Code - shoddy coding.

When I'd finished my Submission and they invited me to "View/Save/Print" my Return as a pdf, it simply took me to a 'Help' screen, and refused to do any more - I couldn't View it, or Save it, or Print it.

I tried to give feedback about the apparent malfunctions, but the "Contact Us" link in the bottom left hand margin simply results in "Page Not Found". If you go to the Home Page for Online Services and click on "Contact Us" on the top tool bar - you also get "Page Not Found" - so I can't even share with the HMRC the contents of this article, because I don't know how to e-mail or phone them?

Is EDS still responsible for supporting this system? If anyone at HMRC reads this blog - fix your "Contact Us".

 

Comments: (2)

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon 31 January, 2009, 01:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Yep.

On the plus side, its a lot faster than previous years, and I didn't have to queue up for several hours trying to submit it by the deadline. 

I had the same issues you reported, the worst being the one about not being able to launch PDF within IE (unable to write to cache or something). 

A lot of the instructions are more ambiguous this year. I don't think they tested it very well.  Beats the paper system by a mile though.

Keith Appleyard
Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley 02 February, 2009, 11:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

What was amusing was a couple of days later they interviewed HMRC on BBC Radio 4 Today program and HMRC boasted they'd done a lot of thorough testing - thanks heavens for that then - what would it have been like without testing? Since when did this not include end-to-end testing viewing / saving / printing the final submission?