HMRC's pre-population of return info

Where do they get their info from?

Didn't find your answer?

As I've retired, I've completed my 2023 tax return today using my Personal Tax account - a bit of a challenge - I would have got it wrong if I'd taken HMRC's help/prompts at face value!

The return was pre-populated with an employment that ceased over 2 years ago, but at the second attempt I managed to delete it.  More worrying, the return was pre-populated with a "self employment" with details of a club I'm a member of.  I'm not an officer, director, trustee or signatory to the club's bank account.  I pay membership fees but have never had any income from it, so don't see why HMRC would have this on their records as a source of income for me. 

Any ideas?

(When MTD comes in, what could possibly go wrong...)

Replies (19)

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By AdamJones82
18th Jul 2023 16:28

I've never heard of them being able to pre-populate self-employment - where do they get the figures from?!

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Replying to AdamJones82:
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By Jane Wanless
18th Jul 2023 16:33

The figures weren't pre-populated, but there were self-employment pages with the name of the group as the business name.

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Replying to janewanless:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
18th Jul 2023 17:50

I imagine "what you put in last year" is the answer

Given I haven't hung up my calculator and do this as a day job, we don't of course use HMRC's software.

I think a few of the "fly by night" crowd do, so you may have some posters who are more familiar with it.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Jane Wanless
18th Jul 2023 18:42

The group changed its name during the year, and I couldn't have anticipated that when I did my 2022 return. The answer therefore can't be what I put last year - and I'm sure I wouldn't have entered the old name last year as it's never been a source of income.

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By CJaneH
18th Jul 2023 16:48

The employment could be explained if your ex-employer had not submitted a P45. Can you confirm that you were issued with a P45.
The self employed pages are very worrying. A club would have a Corporation Tax refence not a personal self employment so it makes no sense.

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Replying to CJaneH:
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By Jane Wanless
18th Jul 2023 18:44

Your P45 theory is possible - I only did one piece of work for the organisation and received a payment taxed at basic rate. I don't remember if there was a P45. The self employment pages remain a mystery to me!

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By Hugo Fair
18th Jul 2023 18:56

"Where do they get their info from?"
I'm not sure that any single person within HMRC could give you a full answer to that!
There are many (and an increasing) number of the sources you'd expect - such as Banks, Share registrars, etc - but not an exhaustive (or even consistent) list from year to year ... and the same applies to their own disparate systems (PAYE/CGT/etc)!
But, laughably, the most common source is last year's return (often irrespective of white box notes, subsequent P45s, or updates you've provided via your PTA)!

"The return was pre-populated with an employment that ceased over 2 years ago" ... so was it there in last year's return, or are you saying it has been resurrected?

"More worrying, the return was pre-populated with a "self employment" with details of a club I'm a member of. I'm not an officer, director, trustee or signatory to the club's bank account. I pay membership fees but have never had any income from it, so don't see why HMRC would have this on their records as a source of income for me."
I agree that this is the most concerning (as opposed to merely annoying) one ... is there any possibility that, say, you did some unpaid volunteer work for the club or that they reimbursed some of your expenses (either of which the club has then mis-reported)?

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By Jane Wanless
18th Jul 2023 20:40

Members have had expenses reimbursed, but no payments for time/volunteering. I think if anyone thought of returning the expenses to HMRC, in view of my background they'd ask me to do it. I definitely haven't! I really can't think of any reason these SE pages would have appeared.

I can't remember whether the additional employment pages appeared last year. I think I would have tried to delete them if they had, but I'm not so bothered about the employment page as I can understand how it might have appeared.

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
By Silver Birch Accts
20th Jul 2023 18:30

Hugo, you forgot HMRC also get their information from The Dandy (but not The Beano) Women's Weekly and the Boys Book of Tax

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Replying to Silver Birch Accts:
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By Hugo Fair
20th Jul 2023 22:07

Ah, but the source and quality of their data fades into insignificance ever since their AI bot read 'The Dice Man' ... and now 'knows' how humans arrive at decisions!

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RLI
By lionofludesch
18th Jul 2023 19:19

I'm going to have a go at this tomorrow.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
RLI
By lionofludesch
19th Jul 2023 08:53

I haven't got anything prepopulated beyond name, address, NI number.

To be fair, I wouldn't rely on it anyway.

Possible, of course, that it's not prepopulated because they don't want a return from me.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Moo
21st Jul 2023 09:55

Me too, rain forecast tomorrow so a good day for playing in my personal tax account.
Hopefully I will find multiple self employments - RHS, National Trust, Tate etc.
In fact the list should be remarkably similar to my gift aid list, I wonder if OP made a gift aid donation to the club concerned?

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By dmmarler
20th Jul 2023 10:47

This has been happening for years. I saw a colleague input someone's (carefully prepared and reconciled) data for them, only for HMRC's system to change it back again to the system data! I suspect the profession is not that interested as a few £ here and there on a client's tax bill is neither here nor there compared to the fortune it would cost to get HMRC to correct everything.

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By Retrocanary
20th Jul 2023 11:41

For years my tax code was wrong and admittedly I never bothered looking into it because on Director's salary it didn't effect anything. This year, for the first time, it would effect things. So when I logged into Gateway I found that they had me down as receiving a private medical benefit from my company which I never have and no such scheme has ever been in place.

More to the point, no P11d has ever been submitted, no such benefit ever declared on the tax returns and no subsequent corrective SA302 ever issued to then have to dispute.

It's amazingly farcicle. They must be operating in an ocean of redundant information.

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Replying to Retrocanary:
RLI
By lionofludesch
20th Jul 2023 13:14

They told me that 2022 would be my last self assessment return and, more recently, that my tax was absolutely spot on for 2022/23.

I reckon I owe them about £30. I wrote to them about it but, so far, haven't received a reply.

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Morph
By kevinringer
21st Jul 2023 09:52

This is caused by some sort of systemic issue within HMRC's IT. Jane can simply delete the mistakes, but HMRC will never become aware of them and could be making the same mistakes for other taxpayers. Jane could report it to HMRC's Online Services, but at best, all they will do is fix it for Jane. What is needed is for HMRC to fix their systemic error, otherwise it will keep happening. This is more likely to happen if it is taken up by a professional body. Jane, are you still a member of a professional body? If so, please contact your PB's HMRC contact: they're listed at the end of every Agent Update.

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By Karen whitehead
21st Jul 2023 12:24

This doesn't surprise me at all. I had one retired gentleman who out of the blue had £38,000 removed from his paye code which meant he only received half of his pension payment that month. Hmrc had created a record for employment for him despite the fact he retired some 11 years earlier. My sisters tax code was sent to my old firm. she works for me but has never worked for my old firm and it was 8 years since I had been a partner there.
They talk about lack of resources but if they just got things right the first time then they wouldn't be spending so much time having to sort out the mess they create. They posted my corporation tax against one of my clients VAT accounts and wrote to him telling him he was due a refund whilst sending me demands and telling me I must of put the wrong reference on.

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Replying to Karen whitehead:
By SteveHa
21st Jul 2023 14:12

I'm pretty sure that the original Taxpayer's Charter (long since obsoleted, replaced, and no longer available anywhere as best as I can tell), included:

"Get things right first time, every time"

Though of course this has been conspicuously absent for many, many years.

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