Intuit Inc, publisher of personal finance software, has discovered a series of embarrassing gaffs in its QuickTax 97 product which may have caused its 50,000 UK users to file incorrectly calculated tax returns. The company has tried to play down the numbers of people affected by the problems, but the software errors involve some of the most common tax deductions available to UK tax payers. Examples include the program’s complete failure to claim the married couple’s allowance (worth 1,790 pounds and available to all married tax payers) and the alarming glitch of turning all capital losses (such as sale of shares at a loss) into taxable capital gains. Intuit insists that it has a policy of rigorous testing for all its products, but the glaring simplicity of the problems with QuickTax 97 suggests a fairly a major foul-up. This is Intuit’s first attempt at a tax package which complies with the UK’s new self assessment tax regime, and the company was clearly under pressure to get a product on the shelves in time for the deadlines of the 96/97 tax year. The company has promised to reimburse any customers who have unwittingly incurred penalties by understating their tax liabilities, and an updated version of QuickTax 97 will be sent to all existing customers free of charge. A statement from Intuit says the company is working with tax experts to identify the gaping holes in its internal testing processes.
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