Accountants no longer have to worry that they are being paranoid in believing that the great establishment called the Inland Revenue is running at a snail's pace when dealing with its enquiries. Unquestionably, it's true. Last week the Revenue set itself up for a professional pasting when it said it would provide a facility allowing taxpayers to contact civil servants directly by e-mail. The facility is due to be launched in April and follows hot on the heels of an internal e-mail system which connects its 55,000 plus employees. But why should this be an occasion for the average accountant to kick the cat? Shouldn't this herald a new era of easy access? As always, it ain't quite what it seems. Announcing the launch, a senior Revenue source said that it was working more slowly on the system for the public. So there you have it. Open admission of what we have known for years. All those who have cursed and bemoaned the slowness of the Revenue to reply to the most straightforward questions can rest assured that self-assessment will continue to be a painful process for the present time. Some 96% of ACCA members surveyed in a questionnaire earlier this year confirmed that they had experienced problems, mostly due to breakdowns in the Revenue systems. The only comfort for professionals following the launch of the e-mail system may be that they can get to know insiders and start sending in their colourful thoughts direct to where it really counts.
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