HMRC's online services downtime in action | AccountingWEB

HMRC's online services downtime in action

Most HMRC online services will be unavailable between 4 and 6 April due to an IT upgrade and maintenance work.

The upgrade will affect services at various stages between 6am Thursday and 6am Saturday, including PAYE, VAT online and corporation tax.

The HMRC online service availability page has the full details about which of the services will be hit and when.

AccountingWEB warned members in January about the downtime, with the Revenue trying to...


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VAT deadline    4 thanks

Handsome Stranger | | Permalink

I assume HMRC will be granting an extension to the VAT deadline by at least 1 day?

Time for change's picture

Regretfully, the "online service availability page"

Time for change | | Permalink

doesn't do, what it says on the can!

The page suggests that you can still file employers end of year returns although confirmation of submission will be delayed. From my experience, the option to file online, is not (currently) available. Where the taxpayer population has no choice, but to file online, isn't it incumbent on the various authorities, to ensure that the service is available, 24 hours of each day and 7 days of the week?

The arrogance and stupidity of the various Government departments never ceases to amaze me. But, after all, we only pay their wages, we "customers"!

On-line availability    3 thanks

Paul FD | | Permalink

Sadly I missed the notification of the on-line service availability and rang HMRC for their advice which was as follows: Please can you work on Sunday and file the return then. If you can't and file it on Monday we cannot guarantee that you will be surcharged and therefore recommend that you take a screen shot of the service availability notice for your appeal.

So - HMRC want me to work on Sunday and if I can't they want me to take a screen shot to prove what they already know - and then deal with all the fall out of making an appeal against any surcharge levied.

Unfortunately, to answer handsome stranger there is no extension to the filing deadline.

For a government forcing people to use on-line service this is utterly outrageous. politicians were all over Nat West when they lost their system for a short period but apparently when the government does it it's OK.

I can only agree with the comment about arrogance and stupidity of government departments.  

VAT deadline

smdavies | | Permalink

Standard Appeal Surcharge letter at the ready!!

We have a lot of payrolls in

Kazmc | | Permalink

We have a lot of payrolls in the pilot and even though HMRC are accepting FPS/EPS submissions during the downtime as per the following from the HMRC website...

You can still send any PAYE in real time reports for 2012/13 online but you will experience a delay in receiving your online acknowledgement if you submit your returns after 17:00 on Wednesday 3 April.

All acknowledgements will be sent between 7 - 9 April.  

However our wonderful software company have decided to put a total block on being able to submit anything!! If its not one its the other!!!


thacca's picture

VAT Returns    1 thanks

thacca | | Permalink

I have seven VAT Returns to file. I'm going to have to take them home and file them on Sunday. Probably better than the effort of appealing later.

Extend deadline? Nope!

SamSamuel2007 | | Permalink

I called them today as I wanted to file various forms online, P11Dx, VAT etc and the first person I spoke to was unware that the website wasn't working and suggested I call the Employers Helpline.

They said that there was no extension for filing, even though they have had pushed everything online and then shutdown the website.

I actually agreed with RTI for collection of PAYE liabilities rather than once a year but this time I fail to follow their logic!!!!

DMGbus's picture

VAT deadline clarified (per HMRC 26th March 2013)    4 thanks

DMGbus | | Permalink

VAT Online Service

The VAT Online service will be unavailable between 6am on Thursday 4 April and 6am on Saturday 6 April.

During this period you will not be able to register or deregister for VAT, or to make changes to your registration details, online. Neither will you be able to view your account, arrange a new Direct Debit, or submit a VAT Return.

HMRC apologises for any inconvenience this may cause.

HMRC strongly recommend that if you who need to submit a return by 7 April you do so before 4 April. If that is not possible you can of course submit your return when the system is back up on 6 April and 7 April.

You can make payments even while you are unable to access the VAT Online service. You should make sure that your payment clears to HMRC’s account by 7 April. Remember, this can take up to three working days.

If you pay by Direct Debit you must make sure that your return is submitted by 7 April so that payment can be collected on time.

You will not be penalised if your return or Direct Debit payment is late and this is due to HMRC systems being unavailable during the period before the 7 April due date.

If you try to submit your return before 7 April you should keep a record of any error messages you receive in case of difficulty. 

.    2 thanks

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

I like how we are supposed to work at the weekend, rather than the update occurring over the weekend. Of course its not like there has been a recent 4 day weekend is there....

I wonder what HMRC staff do for 2 days. 

mr. mischief's picture

HMRC working week    11 thanks

mr. mischief | | Permalink

Monday : Morning moan that the weekend is over, afternoon watch the clock.

Tuesday: Open some letters.

Wed: Sort the letters into two piles "Easy replies - deal with early in 2014" and "Too difficult - leave to next shift"

Thursday: Morning watch the clock, afternoon gather round the coffee machine to discuss the weekend.

Friday: On strike, the weekend starts here!

Saturday & Sunday - joking aren't you, only complete idiots think about work at the weekend.  (Oh, and of course our customers because we waste so much time Monday to Friday.)


We have already submitted three letters of complaint    1 thanks

refs8 | | Permalink

To cover our back we have already submitted three letter of complaint that we can't file and they were not polite. Awful fact have to take time off on a sunday to file vat returns just is totally wrong

So I've got to submit my

bigmuggsy | | Permalink

So I've got to submit my clients VAT returns whilst trying to pick what horses to bet on for the Grand National?  If I lose they're getting a letter of complaint!

lionofludesch's picture

I like the idea that you need

lionofludesch | | Permalink

I like the idea that you need to take a screenshot of the Service Unavailable page because otherwise HMRC won't believe you.




david wilks | | Permalink

I too have vat returns to file by 7 April. I spoke with the online helpdesk and told them to put a note on screen for all those clients that I will not be submitting the returns until Monday 8 April. The reason for this is I cannot on Saturday for religious reasons and will be away from my office for the rest of the weekend. I strongly suggested that no penalty notices be issued. 

The response was that they would log the details but could not stop the penalty notices. I asked to be put through to someone who could!! You guessed it, there is no one!

I then requested a letter be sent our clients and us setting out the details of my conversation. The call centre person said he is not authorised to write letters. I asked to be put through to someone who is authorised. He could not do that but would have to email Head Office the details for them to write the letters. I requested that he included my telephone number in the email which he said he would do (I will not hold my breath for a phone call). I stressed the importance of our having such correspondence on file in the event a disgruntled client decided to sue us. The call centre person said he quite understood my position. I told him that there was no way he could understand my position, which he did have the grace to agree.

Crass stupidity does not come close to the current situation. 

why could they have not done    1 thanks

steve 12321 | | Permalink

why could they have not done this over a weekend themselves?

trecar's picture

Reality check

trecar | | Permalink

As I said to the helpline 'How did they find the total 'd??????' who designed the process to close down a system over the tax year end without giving the taxpayer a standard option to file immediately the system was back online without incurring penalties whether financial or time related. She was unable to provide an answer without referring me to the website, which I then had to explain was actually locking me out, hence the call. She was unable to provide an answer, apart from saying a warning notice had been posted on the website. Strangely enough HMRC's website doesn't figure high on my casual surfing hit list.

No doubt this is known as good practice because HMRC as they continually tell us are performing satisfactorily despite the contrary experience of taxpayers and parliamentary committees's picture

HMRC Working Week! What about everyone else

chelle.cga-york... | | Permalink


Now I am usually the first to agree that HMRC have a lot of ground to cover if they ever expect to have happy "Customers".

However in this instance I don't feel HMRC are at fault. 

We all knew in January (if you read the monthly online blurb) that the systems would be down and they do an update every year at this time.

In addition you've had all month to submit your vat returns - perhaps you should spend less time moaning.

And if you any of you wish to respond with the statement that your clients didn't provide with the information in time, then that isn't your problem is it!

A bit late now

markabacus | | Permalink

It's a pity this thread didn't start a week ago to remind us there was going to be a potential problem.

That said HMRC cld have helped, yes I knew there were updates about to happen but I thought these were to do with PAYE y/end and RTI, not VAT.

We filed 5 rtns online on Weds but there was no notice to warn us of the system down times.

Fortunately only one rtn to submit, ironically a refund and as we work from home 6am on Saturday is not a problem but for those of you working from offices you've basically lost 2 days not counting the w/end.

Another poor show from HMRC, all the technology but no idea how to make best use of it.

My wife is just treading RTI starting, she does the payroll, CIS & bookkeeping side of the business. I simply do the accs and tax!

BTW, unfortunate or sign of the changes a foot, one vat compliance last week and now another being arranged. 2 in a month, can't remember the last one.

Late vat returns    1 thanks

meadowsaw227 | | Permalink

Vat returns were always due by the end of the following month,as far as your clients are concerned nothing has changed, so there is no reason for having seven returns still to file. All my returns were filed on time that by the end of the March.

As for all the moans about working on a Sunday how long does it take you to file vat returns that you were late in preparing ? . 

lionofludesch's picture

Brilliant!    1 thanks

lionofludesch | | Permalink

I've got one VAT Return left to file and the client's just texted that he can't fetch it in til Monday.


Problem solved!!

Re: Late vat returns    1 thanks

WongR | | Permalink

meadowsaw227 wrote:

Vat returns were always due by the end of the following month,as far as your clients are concerned nothing has changed, so there is no reason for having seven returns still to file. All my returns were filed on time that by the end of the March.

As for all the moans about working on a Sunday how long does it take you to file vat returns that you were late in preparing ? . 


Live in the real world - I find all clients who had found out filing deadline has been extended for 7 days will endeavour to try file it as close to the new deadline as possible.

I don't argue however that filing several Returns on Sunday will take too long - but however some practitioners may not have access to their online HMRC account (at home) over the weekends.  I for one do have access and will file on Sunday, but for some it means a trek into their workplace.

Happy Up North Accountant's picture

Rabble Rabble Rabble.....    1 thanks

Happy Up North ... | | Permalink

<insert HMRC are rubbish comment here>

mr. mischief's picture

On deadlines

mr. mischief | | Permalink

When it comes to deadlines, HMRC have set themselves a deadline of 0600 tomorrow to have the whole system back up and running.  Those of you who are confident, based on past experience, that this will happen, should follow this process:

1.  Log in to Stan James or phone them up.

2.  Open an account if you do not have one.

3.  Deposit £100.

4.  Put this, plus any sign-up bonus on number 33 - Mumbles Head - in the 1615 at Aintree tomorrow.

5.  You should get 150 to 1 on this.

6.  Log in at 1645 tomorrow.  Your account balance will now be £150,100 or higher.

7.  Cash out the account.

lionofludesch's picture

Arithmetic Fail

lionofludesch | | Permalink

mr. mischief wrote:

3.  Deposit £100.

4.  Put this, plus any sign-up bonus on number 33 - Mumbles Head - in the 1615 at Aintree tomorrow.

5.  You should get 150 to 1 on this.

6.  Log in at 1645 tomorrow.  Your account balance will now be £150,100 or higher.

150/1 ?   Or 1500/1 ......


Sorry, Mr Mischief.

mr. mischief's picture

Apologies    2 thanks

mr. mischief | | Permalink

Apologies, when calculating the returns on the bet I was using one of the HMRC tools.

Monday    1 thanks

philh74a | | Permalink

Hopefully, it will all be back on line when they say it will. If not, be quick with your calls to HMRC on Monday as they'll be on strike at 1pm! You couldn't make it up!

Saturday 08:30

youngloch | | Permalink

Log in to file a return for a client and guess what....... up pops his screen showing he isn't actually registered for any taxes at all!! To be on the safe side I then log in with our own details and find exactly the same type of screen (which given the circumstances is comforting!) So I go to phone the VAT online service issues helpline to find they work Monday-Friday............. Hopefully some IT specialists are having kittens as otherwise we'll all no doubt be faced with writing appeal letters come Monday morning (if it's working by then!)


sbeardon | | Permalink


youngloch | | Permalink

We've had a client on the pilot scheme and using Iris Payroll Professional I have to confess that the submissions have been going through without issue although I question what HMRC are doing with the data when he received a letter stating that he hadn't made any payments (he didn't owe any money as per the RTI submissions!!). Regarding the VAT issue that seems to be fine as of 11am albeit access is now achieved by clicking into "services you can use" which is somewhat tucked away.


bevhibbert | | Permalink

Its now 11.23 am on the 6th April...well after the 6.00am cut off for downtime  and I have been informed by HMRC that the service is still down ! update on their website...took a 45 minute wait on the telephone to be told this

DMGbus's picture

Unable to file a 2012/13 P35 - 11.30am Sat 6th April 2013

DMGbus | | Permalink

Able to log into HMRC online services and view PAYE payments made for 2012/13 (despite initial screen saying not possible at present time - menu on left of screen "View Account" did produce the required information when clicked on).

Tried to file 2012/13 payroll year end from Moneysoft & message comes back about HMRC systems being busy and message recommends that I try again after Wednesday 10th April.

Tried to make PAYE month 12 payment via Santander Bill Payment system and it would not accept PAYE collection reference - the second letter (as in Z of PZ) could not be input - box (with space for two characters) was prepopulated with the P but wouldn't accept the Z or replace P with PZ.


So HMRC and Santander online services had three IT issues today, the first day of RTI.

You can't login, strange....

markabacus | | Permalink

I logged into HMRC shortly after 9:30 this morning [6th] initial page layout had changed but I went into Vat and filed my last rtn no problems.

Didn't look further, 2 sets of Ltd accs to draft this w/end


Horse Manure Really Crap

bigmuggsy | | Permalink

Horse Manure Really Crap

2009 and 2010 tax return submissions....    2 thanks

youngloch | | Permalink

Very late in the day claim made by a client for expense relief for 2009 (deadline was 5 April 2013) and 2010 tax returns but both submitted on time during the afternoon of 5 April with evidence from the Revenue website that commercial software submissions could be made (took printouts to safeguard him), and evidence of the timing of submission..... 26 hours later emails arrive confirming receipt of both returns but rejecting the 2009 return as obviously when processed by HMRC it was 6 April. Saving grace was the fact that the 2010 return was accepted and noted as submitted on 5 April despite the fact it was submitted 10 minutes later than the 2009 return. Obviously letter of appeal is going in on Monday with an original signed return (with same IR Mark) and no expectation of any issue but these are the things which cause us sleepless nights - well that and clients chasing deadlines!

mr. mischief's picture

It lost

mr. mischief | | Permalink

Needless to say Mumbles Head lost but at least made it to the final fence.  Unsurpisingly, HMRC unseated its rider on the way to the first fence and crashed straight into it.  It's a great shame that, unlike horses, we can't simply put a bullet into the head of RTI.

RTI filing

ridgways | | Permalink

Sage payroll will not allow any submission of RTI information. When attempted there is a message that Sage are testing the system and there are long delays. The only option is to abandon the process. At least if we were able to send the info, despite long delays for a response, there would be some record of the submission being on time. As it is Sage is preventing a submission, maybe unavoidably, and the consequence is that our submission that I attempted on Saturday is now late. I hope somebody penalises  HMRC.

RTI & Sage software

Hazel Edwards | | Permalink

Has anyone else tried to call the Sage helpline?  It very clearly states on  their website that they are offering extended support on the 6th & 7th April between 8 am and 1 pm but when I try the agent priority helpline, the 'offices are now closed' message is there.  I have tried other Sage numbers but all go to the same message; that they are closed. 

I too, like ridgways, have tried to submit an end of year return yesterday and today and get the same message.  I also tried my first EAS yesterday and got the same message.  On the face of it, Sage are blocking the submissions, so when are they to tell us what is going on???

RTI filing success

ridgways | | Permalink

Just managed to file RTI documents. What do I do about the payroll paid on Saturday April 6th that I was unable to submit. HMRC advice is to submit on the day!

Still unable to submit P35s but at least there is still time to do so.

Basic PAYE tools 2012-13 filing    3 thanks

Jane Green | | Permalink

HMRC Server continually busy.

According to the helpful lady they have been surprised (& overwhelmed) by the volume of information being filed on line!  They have had dozens of phone calls complaining.

I need to pay someone tomorrow using tax tools 13-14 but I can't download that till I've filed 12-13 which I can't do because HMRC servers are overloaded.  Let alone doing the RTI filing for the payment I need to make tomorrow.

Didn't see this one coming did we!!!!

Time for change's picture

Jane Green

Time for change | | Permalink

You really couldn't make it up could you?

I believe you were lucky though. When I tried to phone, I went through the usual process, press one for end of year queries, then press 3 for dealing with filing queries, then, just when I thought I was through, the line went dead!

And, of course, it's industrial action morning. Moreover, HMRC are trying to implement a radical change to the Paye structure.

Well, at least George Osborne and Danny Alexander will know what's going on, if we need them?

What an absolute shambles these last few days have turned out to be.

I'm still trying to file 2

St Bruno | | Permalink

I'm still trying to file 2 P35s (non-RTi). Both had wk53 runs so couldn't finalise until late Friday. Have been trying to file them ever since, starting at 10.23am Saturday, through Sunday and virtually the whole of this morning. My Earnie software submits a Submission Request, which I presume to mean a hand-shake to establish contact, with no response from t'other end whatsoever! Still trying.


tommyleinen | | Permalink

I have umpteen P35s to file online via Iris Payroll Professional. The first few went through fine last week, but since the HMRC outage and subsequently coming back online, none of the submissions have received any response from the government gateway... they simply fail at the handshake stage.

Iris support is a matter of waiting in a queue for 3 hours to then be hung up on...

Nothing online on either Iris or HMRC service availability pages...

Can anybody confirm whether St Bruno and I are the only ones, or has the gateway fallen over?

I find the lack of any service statements alarming - surely neither are that stupid?! Though with HMRC I would not be suprised in the slightest.

P35 Filing - Double ditto

rogeraca | | Permalink

Tommyleinen and St Bruno, I am achieving the same frustrated result of no result, in that the server with which Basic PAYE is supposed to connect has been continually busy since Saturday, including 8.30pm in the evening and various attempts on Sunday.  [The bane of a Home/Office - you can attempt connection with HMRC at stupid times.]  

So you are not alone.

Nothing seen on the Service Availability pages, but they do have the luxury of being able to go on strike as their 'clients' can't go to another firm!




Crazy if true, rogeraca,

tommyleinen | | Permalink

Crazy if true, rogeraca, because as time passes, these clients will be sending in their payroll info for week 1 expecting it to be processed... I cannot do this until the Y/E has been filed! So I am now being squeezed at both ends! But you are right - no word from HMRC online, it's as if they couldn't give a monkey's.

1046 error

steve 12321 | | Permalink

Any one know what I should do with this - I'm using basic tools, Authentication failure.  The Supplied use credentials failed validation for requested service. Can't get any help from HMRC - just can't get through to the on-line helpline.  I downloaded their tools then entered my company details and my own details as the sole director/employee

No P35 Issues

youngloch | | Permalink

I just submitted our P35 using Iris Payroll Professional and received instant acknowledgement and an email confirmation within seconds. Same with a P11D earlier so I assume all is well now?

Still Waiting

angusbruce | | Permalink

Using Moneysoft Payroll, still trying to submit, even tried tonight.  Anyone else still having problems?

mr. mischief's picture

50% done

mr. mischief | | Permalink

50% done in last hour, I prefer to wait until most accountants have packed up and the database is getting less volumes.  All accepted.

Plan for tomorrow is to get all my refund SA returns done.  Hopefully the database has now stabilised.

Late on Monday evening, I got    1 thanks

St Bruno | | Permalink

Late on Monday evening, I got multiple emails from HMRC, some saying the 2 submissions were unsuccessful, then 2 saying they were successful and then two more saying unsuccessful.

From what I can gather, although not one of the submissions received the appropriate handshake from HMRC, some of them must have got through, hence the emails. I think my submissions sent after the ones that went through triggered the later "failure" emails because I also got an error message saying "You've sent a duplicate original" or words to that effect.


I did my first RTi FPS yesterday in about 20 seconds start to finish but I think RTi filings use a different pathway to HMRC.

Plea to HMRC - don't upgrade your systems at times of the year which are critical to your customers and don't tell us that's what you do every year as that clearly is not the case.

Further to the above

youngloch | | Permalink

Also not particularly fair to impose a four year deadline on SA expense claims and then prohibit Joe Public from filing SA returns online during the final few days!!