HMRC will be decommissioning their current Gateway portal in 2018. Now it looks like they’ll be creating a brand new online authentication portal capable of dealing with businesses, which the Government Digital Service’s online authentication system Verify can’t do.

The news fills many experts with horror, since the government has an incredibly poor IT development record. Many think they should steer clear of system-building altogether, they’re so rubbish at it.

If they do manage to pull it off without costing the taxpayer untold fortunes or cancelling the project part-way through, the new system will let individuals authenticate themselves and nominate an accountant to do their tax returns.

Why the change?

Apparently HMRC thinks the Verify system is too slow, and anyway it can’t be updated to handle businesses. Is this anyone’s fault but their own? No. So all they’ll be doing is spending a fortune putting right their own mistakes.

At the same time, HMRC is keeping their plans under wraps… or trying to. Building a new system is, understandably, a sensitive issue with the Cabinet Office. Especially when it’s likely we’ll end up in the silly situation of having two different online authentication systems, the existing Verify system plus another designed by HMRC.

Here you go… have £1.3 billion

In 2015 the revenue was handed an eye-popping £1.3bn to create the new system, lauded as one of the most digitally-advanced tax administrations on the planet. Assuming they manage to a. get it right, b. stay within budget and c. launch it on time, it could deliver an extra £1bn tax revenue after 2020. On the other hand, given the government’s IT development record, if it actually comes to fruition we shall eat our proverbial hats!

How come it’s so expensive?

How come it’s going to cost so much to create the system? Should any system, no matter how complicated or extensive, cost anywhere near a billion pounds, a thousand million? It seems crazy, and it would be interesting to see the revenue’s justification.

In the meantime, feel free to contact the VAT Lady or Bookkeeping Ladies to keep your tax and VAT matters in good order.