Headlines: July 18th, 2001

Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue are changing the way they collect revenue in response to the growth of the world wide web. The rapid increase in on line betting has reduced the importance of national frontiers and opened the way for bookmakers to operate on a global basis This has prompted some UK bookmakers to operate from off shore sites to avoid payment of betting duty. The response to this development will be the
replacement of betting duty by a tax on gross profits of bookmakers in October. The change was due to be introduced in January 2002, but because Customs and Excise has made rapid progress with implementation plans it will be introduced 3 months early.

The Inland Revenue is providing an increasing range of services on line to meet the needs of personal taxpayers and businesses, but take up is very slow. The tax return filing services is now into its second year of operation, but only some 50,000 returns have been filed to date. A service for employers to submit end of year returns launched in April 2001
has so far been used for some 2600 returns, but only 155 payments have been made.

It is thought that many businesses are being deterred from using the system because security measures require a digital certificate to be obtained before access can be gained to the facility. Digital certificates are available from two suppliers and they cost fifty pounds, but this charge is off-set by the Revenue paying a one off bonus of fifty pounds to users. The real difficulty is the process for obtaining a certificate which involves the production of identity documents. This is then followed by the hassle of using the certificate to access the Revenue’s system.

The Inland Revenue has launched a 5.5 million pound TV advertising featuring `Mrs Doyle’ from the award-winning Channel 4 sitcom `Father Ted’ to encourage people to get their tax returns in early. The adverts will promote Internet filing of returns.