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Security worries hold back UK online tax returns

e-govt falls down on ease of use too

Security and usability concerns are holding back Brits from filling their tax returns online.

That's the main conclusion of a survey into public attitudes to government e-services, commissioned by firewall vendor Check Point. It found that only seven per cent of 200 people polled intended to complete their tax return online.

Of the 93 per cent who preferred traditional paper returns, just under half (43 per cent) named security as the reason.

Concerns over the reliability of Internet connection (32 per cent), difficulty with Government Gateway online registration (10 per cent) and the lack of an Internet connection at home (five per cent) were also named as reasons for paper submissions.

The Government is keen to drive online tax returns but despite a high profile advertising campaign, figures for self-assessment returns submitted online look like they will closely mirror last year's disappointing figure of 75,449, less than one per cent of the population. The deadline for online tax returns this year is Friday (January 31).

Around nine million people (nearly half of all Internet users in the UK) used their credit card to make an online purchase last year, according to Check Point.

The company argues that many of those who happily pay for goods online can be persuaded to fill out tax returns on the Net if the government does more to build confidence in e-government.

That means working with industry to correct public perception that government services might be insecure and, crucially, to make government services more citizen-friendly, Check Point argues. ®

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