§ Mr. Welsh
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what representations he has received on the availability of suitable software to allow chartered accountants to carry out partnership tax returns under the new assessment system; and what steps he will take to resolve those problems which have been identified; 
(2) when the Inland Revenue (a) planned to make and (b) made available to software houses final versions of the new tax return system; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what advice he will issue to chartered accountants who cannot gain access to final versions of the necessary software to carry out computerised partnership returns under the new tax assessment system; and what plans he has to extend the filing deadlines for 1997 tax returns. 
§ Dawn Primarolo
The availability and reliability of commercial computer software packages is a matter for software suppliers to address. For their part the Inland Revenue are continuing to work closely with software suppliers to give them the assistance they need to produce an approved software package.
The near final draft of the new tax return for self-assessment was published in September 1996. The only changes made after September 1996 were minor corrections and the changes required following the last Budget.
The Inland Revenue had kept software houses fully informed of developments throughout the three-year process of consultation on and testing of the new return form.
Taxpayers have until 31 January 1998 to submit their completed 1996–97 tax returns. There are no plans to extend the filing deadline.
§ Dawn Primarolo
From 1997–98 onwards the same payment rules will apply to all self-employed taxpayers, whether individuals or partners. But in 1996–97 special transitional rules apply. For certain partnerships—broadly, those with businesses which commenced prior to April 1994—the transitional arrangements mean that the existing rules are retained for one final year. As in previous years therefore the tax due for 1996–97 is payable in two instalments, on 1 January 1997 and 1 July 1997. Normally interest will only arise on any additional tax for the year, over and above the amount originally assessed, which remains unpaid after 1 July 1997.