HMRC claims issue with online tax rebate system fixed after days of problems

Citizens report inability to claim repayments and delays to those that have already claimed

Credit: Images Money/CC BY 2.0

HM Revenue and Customs claims to have fixed an IT issue that left some citizens unable to receive and claim income-tax rebates for more than a week.

The department’s usual given timescale for issuing refunds for overpayments of pay-as-you-earn tax is five working days after a claim has been made.

Early last week citizens, some of whom claimed to have made their claim as early as 10 June, began contacting HMRC to claim that they were still waiting for money to be transferred to them after double this amount of time.

Staff on the tax agency’s customer support Twitter account told some users that the refund could take up to 10 days. Others were advised that “there have been so many requests they are taking longer” than they normally would.

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By Tuesday afternoon, 23 June, those asking when to expect payment were told that the department had identified an issue with its IT systems and asked users to be patient.

“We are aware of a problem with some repayments requested between specific dates,” one user was told.

Another was advised that: “We’ve found an issue with the service that is delaying payments, as soon as the issue is resolved the refund service will be made available again. We’re working to issue the repayments that have already been affected as soon as possible.”

Around late afternoon on Tuesday, some began reporting that they could not even file their claim for a rebate – either online or over the phone. 

It appears that the service, including the telephone helpline and website, was suspended while an underlying problem was addressed.

“We are working on a fix,” one user awaiting payment was told. “As soon as that’s been tested, [HMRC] will issue all the outstanding payments then reopen the website. As it is the system that actually sends funds to the banks or for cheques, please wait for us to do this.”

Throughout Wednesday, Thursday and Friday citizens enquiring about the problems were informed that there was “a known issue… under urgent investigation”. No timescale for a potential fix was provided.

Shortly after 4pm on Friday 26 June. HMRC said that the “issue has now been fixed and we expect the service to reopen as normal this weekend”.

Around 8.30am on Saturday the department said that “the service is now open”. 

It added: “All customers who have already submitted their repayment request will have the money in their bank by Thursday 2 July, or receive a cheque by Monday 13 July if they requested payment by cheque.”

Sam Trendall

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