Accountants grapple with online services downtime

The start of the new financial year was a frustrating time for accountants. First, HMRC’s online services crashed on 6 April and, by 10 April, all their online services were down. Secondly, Companies House used the Easter weekend to undertake maintenance work on their online systems. With both services unavailable, taxpayers and their agents were unable to file their tax returns and could not access Companies House online services.

Message boards were alive with complaints from accounting professionals who pointed out that the number of downtime problems so early in the tax year was unusual and a growing concern for everyone involved.

Accountants gave vent to their frustrations by giving details of some of the unexpected difficulties caused by HMRC’s downtime. The inability to file tax returns had impacted, for example, on a student loan application because the deadline of 23 April could not be met. Similarly, mortgage applications were in jeopardy because of HMRC’s downtime.

HMRC responded to the criticisms by admitting that access to their online services had been slower than normal, but that all issues had been rectified and all their systems were running as normal. Similarly, online services from Companies House were also available.