Tax Deadline – 12th November, early start for all, making sure we get the stragglers across the line and compliant for another year, uploading of a complete tax returns is normally instant, but by 10am the system had slowed and then the Revenue Online System (ROS) crashed at about 10.30am.

Communication was slow and it was well into the afternoon before any update was issued, frankly this is dreadful for a government body to be so lax with updates.

Phew.. extension until 6pm the following day and ROS returned to full service at about 5pm that evening. So it was all systems go for Wednesday morning until again at 10am, total crash, even the customs section crashed leaving boats unable to unload cargo in the ports.                              Communication was again quite poor, (though they did manage a press release about a new mobile scanner in the middle of it all) The same old chestnut was rolled out.. “ROS is experiencing some technical difficulties”

Eventually the logical step of a 5 day extension was released and this allowed the pressure ease off the system. It turns out that PAYE modernisation was the main cause for the melt down due to the new live payroll rules, how could this have not been foreseen in some way?

Having had first-hand experience of this mess, a few ideas have floated about as a result.

  1. Change the filing deadline for tax professionals, e.g., accountants get until October 31st, but if you file your own return, you must have it filed by August 31st, this will greatly reduce traffic using the online forms on deadline day.
  2. Have the deadline on a Sunday, this will keep a lot of non tax return traffic away from the website on the deadline day, and hopefully many accountants will file earlier in the week to avoid working on a Sunday, getting civil servants to work on a Sunday might be another story! (I’m sensing a letter from a public service union already!)

The bigger picture is more concerning, does the ROS system need a total overhaul? Is it fit for purpose at this time? Or do Revenue just need to manage deadlines a little smarter?

My suggestion is better deadline scheduling, it can be done at minimal cost as the existing IT platform seems to perform well through the year.


Next month, we can get into a real mess… the Register of Beneficial Owners


John Bell


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