The IT department at HM Revenue and Customs is gearing up for its busiest day of the year, with 31 January marking the UK deadline for the completion of online tax returns.
In an exclusive interview with V3, HMRC IT director and acting chief information officer Mark Hall, said the IT department has been using sophisticated data analytics to manage the load on both the web-based system and the tax agents.
"I've been here five years and I always find January is the most challenging. We are one of the busiest websites in the whole world on 31 January, but HMRC is good at managing key events and we work closely with our suppliers to do that," said Hall.
"Our teams work around the clock, managing load capacity on a minute by minute basic. They use complex modeling techniques to forecast how much of a load we should expect every day in the run-up to completion date."
Hall said the HMRC team of data modellers work 24 hours a day, and base their predications on a whole range of data, such as the timing of popular TV shows, football matches, public holidays, historical data and HMRC campaigns.
"We've very successfully managed the load in the last couple of years but this success is by no means by accident," said Hall.
"The analysis we do has got increasingly better over the last five years. We have found we have been absolutely spot on this year. What I find interesting is more and more people are filing their tax returns on Christmas day."
Hall also told V3 how HMRC is extending its risk and intelligence big data system, Connect, to help clamp down on corporation tax evaders.
The Connect system was introduced by HMRC in 2010, after being designed by defence contractor BAE Systems at a cost of £45m.
Hall said the system is now being given "extra data feeds" around business history and behaviour to further increase tax yield from tax evaders, specifically those evading cooperation tax.
In December last year, chancellor George Osborne said HMRC would be the only government department to be given increased funding, and this was in order to help chase down companies evading corporation tax.
Osborne's announcement came amid widespread anger aimed at Starbucks, Amazon and Google for the low levels of corporation tax they pay.
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