Red faces at Revenue as online system crashes on deadline day

Technical glitch shuts down online portal as thousands of self-employed look to pay taxes

Revenue has a series of questions to answer. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Revenue has a series of questions to answer. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

It has not been Revenue’s finest hour. An organisation that prides itself on its efficiency in collecting our taxes and, certainly in recent years, on its customer service has been badly caught out by technical glitches that have floored its online portal, ROS.

The timing couldn’t have been worse. The system crashed on Tuesday – deadline day for the hundreds of thousands of self-employed people throughout the State to file their annual tax returns for the previous year as well as settling any outstanding bills for that year and paying ahead for the current year.

It is one of the Revenue’s busiest days of the year, but it knows that and plans accordingly.

Having announced a 24-hour extension to the pay and file deadline, Revenue worked through the day and Tuesday night to get the system back up and running. But early optimism on Wednesday was quickly disabused as the system collapsed again.

The outage was severe enough, and the numbers affected big enough, that Revenue felt obliged to waive the traditional 5 per cent surcharge on late filers – at least on those who manage to complete the process this week.

All in all it was a nightmarish 36 hours for a site that has won a number of accolades for its efficiency and ease of use.

As the dust settles, Revenue now has a series of questions to answer. Uppermost among these is how it was unable to handle the volume of traffic. The numbers of self-employed filers does not change radically year to year, and Revenue has a good fix on who they are. They have filed without incident in previous years.

Most importantly, what reassurance can Revenue give that similar issues will not recur?

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