HMRC clarifies generic notices situation
HMRC has responded to queries raised on AccountingWEB about incorrect RTI messages warning employers that they had not filed their monthly PAYE returns in January.
As revealed last week by HMRC director general for personal tax Ruth Own, 400,000 electronic messages were automatically generated within HMRC’s real time information (RTI) system on 7 February to alert employers who had not filed the expected returns.
The trouble was that many employers and advisers had done so, with hundreds of examples covering a range of scenarios presented in evidence.
“We haven’t been able to target them as sharply as we hoped and they went to people who had complied,” Owen acknowledged.
She explained that the messages were intended to explain to employers in the run up to automatic penalties that if they continued to file RTI returns late, or fail to make their payments on time, they would get penalties under the automatic regime. Because of the continuing problems employers and payroll agents have been experiencing with RTI, Owen took the decision not just to suspend automatic penalties, but also to withdraw the generic notification system (GNS) alerts for late filing.
HMRC had already decided to suspend the GNS messages, but the January reminders went out on 7 February because “we didn’t get to the system quickly enough to stop them”, Owen said.
“They have gone out to some people who didn’t need reminding. We put a system update in place that day to reassure taxpayers they didn’t need to act.”
In the wake of the furore caused by the messages, AccountingWEB put the following points raised by members to HMRC:
- Is there any relationship between the notices and the data missing from employers’ dashboards?
- Can HMRC confirm the advice in circulation that it was safe to ignore “no payment EPS” notifications?
- Why can’t you file a nil return until after the 5th of each month, when it will be assessed as late?
HMRC’s detailed responses are presented below, alongside Owen’s explanations from her recent AccountingWEB interview...