Covid tax bill rush cripples Revenue website

Taxpayers unable to access end-year statements as website struggles to cope with numbers

The website of the Revenue Commissioners ground to a halt on Friday as thousands of taxpayers tried to access their records.  Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

The website of the Revenue Commissioners ground to a halt on Friday as thousands of taxpayers tried to access their records. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The website of the Revenue Commissioners ground to a halt on Friday as thousands of taxpayers tried to access their records to see if they had any tax liability over payments made during the Covid pandemic.

Around 400,000 PAYE workers will face a tax bill in relation to pandemic unemployment payments or wage subsidies received during 2020, according to the Revenue figures released late on Thursday. The sum involved comes to €458 million.

Individual preliminary end-year statements were delivered online to individual taxpayers’ myAccount pages by Revenue on Friday. However, many taxpayers found themselves unable to access the details during the day.

Revenue put out a brief statement on Twitter to state: “We are aware of intermittent issues with our online services. Some customers can access our services without any problem. However, for some customers performance is slow and for others the service is unavailable. Our technical teams are currently working to resolve the issues.”

Sources in Revenue said the issue was simply one of the number of people trying to access the site at the same time.

Many of those logging on to their Revenue myAccount were confronted with an error message that read: “Revenue online services are currently unavailable,” adding that ROS and myAccount pages were the pages concerned.

It gave a telephone and email address for a helpdesk. However, people complained that the number simply put them through to a recorded message saying the office was closed as early as midday even though opening hours were supposed to be until 4pm.

Tax bills

Reacting online, taxpayers asked why Revenue had not sourced extra server capacity for what it knew would be an exceptionally busy time given that over two million workers who never receive tax bills were worried about their status.

Revenue says the amount of money involved for around a quarter of those facing bills as a result of Covid support payments will be less than €500, with 15 per cent facing a bill of between €500 and €1,000. A further one in six will be required to pay sums in excess of €1,000.

Close to half of all those who received Covid supports would not have any additional tax bill, Revenue said.

Those affected will have four years to pay the amount owing, starting in January 2022.

Revenue said it had published details of the numbers affected to reassure people who might be concerned that they would owe significant sums.