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'Success'? Verify FAILED for 40% in self-assess tax trial

Good luck with that March 2016 deadline,

As many as 40 per cent of online self assessment tax users were unable to identify themselves in a trial of the government's gaffe-prone Verify identity assurance system by HMRC.

In a blog post, the Government Digital Service claimed the trial, where just "60 per cent" managed to fully verify their identities, had been a "success".

The GDS did not publish the reasons for the high failure rate, but it will likely be due to the identity assurance provider failing to identify users' credit records.

There could be a number of reasons behind this, such as a mismatch in information due to a change of address and name, or the user not having the correct paperwork in front of them during the process.

But while those results do not bode well for potentially millions of self assessment tax users, they are an improvement compared with other pilots of the system.

For example, a trial of Verify for online Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments appears to have largely have been abandoned by farmers in favour of an alternative telephone service.

El Reg understands that the sample group for the HMRC trial will have mainly included textbook users with good individual credit ratings – who would therefore be well established on the identity assurance providers' records.

A source told us the use of Verify for business users and third-party agents such as accountants has been put on ice. A spokeswoman from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales confirmed that "Verify is for individuals rather than the agent identity assurance process".

The focus on individuals' identity could one reason why the system has failed to work for farmers using CAP, as they often use third-party agents to claim Rural Payment Agency payments, which also tend to go to their businesses rather than directly to them as individuals.

Of the five identity providers that have signed a contract with the GDS, only Experian and Dutch identity management firm Digidentity have so far won accreditation.

The government hopes to shift all departments over to the Verify scheme by March 2016. ®

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