A powerful parliamentary select committee has said that the Inland Revenue's online tax return service is doomed to failure without significant improvements to its security and reliability.
A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee maintained that plans to have more than half the country using the service are unlikely to be met, despite the Revenue's pledge to offer all its services via the web by 2005.
The committee cites problems such as security breaches and technical glitches which have led to public confidence in the online service falling to such a degree that it has fewer than 80,000 users.
MPs have suggested that the Revenue does not have a "full grip" of the costs and potential benefits of its £200m e-strategy.
The Revenue must offer more incentives for people to switch from paper-based systems and make more reassurances about security, the committee argued.
Further criticism of the Government's general e-strategy was also expressed.
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