HMRC trials's Verify identity assurance scheme this month

21st January 2015

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is set to trial the government’s Verify identity assurance scheme this month; undoubtedly its busiest month of the year.

The tax authority is expected to conduct a trial on a “relatively small scale” to citizens using online self-assessment to file their tax returns by the 31st January deadline.

The trial is set to conclude a few days before the deadline, which is the busiest week of the year for self-employed professionals that will submit 2013-14 tax returns online.

To date, 3,700 people have successfully verified their identity using the Verify service. Less than two-thirds (60 per cent) of total visits have been successful, which is said to be in line with early stage performance forecasts.

A blog post said of the trial: “We’re not seeking to test our ability to handle large volumes and peaks in traffic at this stage with this service.

“We’re working on that separately so we’ll be ready to meet the growing demand for Verify across the range of services.

“We’ll be working gradually towards managing larger volumes of users and peaks in traffic.”

HMRC has confirmed it will limit the number of users per minute during the trial by utilising a throttle which can increase or decrease demand on a sliding scale as necessary.

“We’ve been gradually increasing the throttle over the last couple of weeks to accommodate more users,” the blog post added.

“We’re hitting our agreed limit very infrequently, so very few people have been prevented from accessing the trial by the limit on user numbers.”

It confirmed the reason for not extending the trial right up to the self-assessment deadline was because the department did not want to “confuse or frustrate people by having an option that’s not available to everyone all the time because our throttle is at its limit”.

Plans are afoot to re-open Verify to self-assessment users fully from mid-February onwards.

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