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Info Commr complaint HMRC agent address changes

HMRC fails to bulk-change agent office move non-SA cases. Info Commr needs evidence of extent

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Help needed to quantify this problem and make office moves smoother...live complaint with Info Commissioner Office.

25 years in practice, moved office 3 years ago.  Told HMRC.
SA clients - changed seamlessly
CT clients - same
Employee (non-SA clients) - PROBLEM

HMRC says for non-SA individuals I must supply a list of names and NINOs.  Some of these people I acted for years ago and they asked we remain on record in case another tax code etc query arose.  Impractical to locate every one.
Now for some, the papers are shredded under Data Protection.
When HMRC issues a P800 or enquiry letter to us for such a client (to wrong address) it does not show the full NINO so we cannot ask to update our address or remove us from the record.
I have sent back the P800 inviting HMRC to use the barcode and remove us - HMRC just says cannot trace without NINO! Doh!

Finally complained with examples to Information Commissioner's Office.  It is an offence to keep old data on systems and not have robust structures to update things like (agent) addresses. (Principles 4 and 7 of DPA)

They have never heard of this and believe I am exaggerating when I say thousands of taxpayers could have correspondence sent to old agent addresses.

To quote the ICO specialist on HMRC cases in his initial response to our formal complaint:
"In response to your comment that there could be other agents impacted by this issue meaning there could well be tens of thousands of taxpayers where HMRC uses an out of date agent address I can only say this: I have been dealing with nearly all HMRC data protection concerns reported to the ICO for at least the last 3 years and yours is the first such complaint I have seen. This would not tend to suggest we have evidence of it being a widespread problem."

Have any other members had this problem?  I would like to tell the ICO of other firms.  Otherwise they will think this is small beer. (Of course you could lodge your own complaint too!)

HMRC is famed for its bad tech, but if we work together this is a piece of law we can use to make something get better.

Replies (11)

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By Andywho is fed up
11th Apr 2018 09:42

Yes I have
Example 1.

Client moved to Spain 10 years ago but I have heard via the grapevine that they have returned. When they left, they were taken out of SA (no UK income). Now getting P800's with UK pensions etc but I have no details because the files were shredded following their removal abroad.

Example 2
Client was self-employed but then became an employee so notified HMRc no longer acting . It would seem he now has BIK's because I am getting P800's with underpayments. No records left of address , NI number etc so can't contact him.

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Replying to Andywho is fed up:
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By ARAFVH
14th Apr 2018 09:13

Thank you Andywho, helpful support for the case I have with ICO.

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By Vaughan Blake1
11th Apr 2018 09:51

I don't understand why you don't have these client's NINOs on your system. How do you check their P800s? NINOs appear on their coding notices, P60s and P11ds, and if not you can always ask them!

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Replying to Vaughan Blake1:
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By Andywho is fed up
11th Apr 2018 09:57

In response to Vaughan, its because they are ex- clients. Our policy is to shred all files after not acting for three years. This is in accordance with Data Protection best policy so we have no records of these people other than our memories and the delightful P800's that HMRC send us.

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Replying to Andywho is fed up:
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By Vaughan Blake1
11th Apr 2018 10:54

Andy my NINO question was directed to the OP rather you, as for them they are current clients.

I can see why you have this issue, however, if they are ex-clients then I would just wait until they re-instruct you. We very occasionally get random post for non SA ex-clients and just bin it.

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Replying to Vaughan Blake1:
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By Andywho is fed up
11th Apr 2018 14:50

I quite agree, Vaughan, but the issue here is that we are receiving income details for individuals that we don't act for and there is no way to tell HMRC to stop sending them to us! Yes, we could try sending the SA800's back but then we risk HMRC freezing all our clienst on the basis that we have moved or some other spurious excuse and that would be a real pain to undo.

But to the main issue, surely this is a breach of confidentiality by HMRC in respect of the individuals concerned as we are not entitled to know anything about them.

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Replying to Vaughan Blake1:
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By ARAFVH
14th Apr 2018 09:15

Vaughan. As stated in the post....Now for some, the papers are shredded under Data Protection.

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By atleastisoundknowledgable...
11th Apr 2018 11:12

We had a small number of clients when we left our first premises. Of those, CT has moved, most VAT has moved, no SA have moved.

When the clients get a letter saying “a copy of this was sent to your agent”, we’re ad hoc having to speak to HMRC to change that client.

It also confuses the clients when the online auth’s come through showing our old old address (2 office moves and even a different town).

We’re having to move again in about 6 months (landlords!), so I’m waiting until that happens then go through and make sure that everything is changed for everyone.

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
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By mg200
11th Apr 2018 17:24

Yes, we had similar problems. Moved 3 years ago and it was very similar problems.

What sticks in my mind the most was the agent authorisations that came through with NAME OF PRACTICE of OLD BUILDING NAME followed by correct address.

And also the payroll. We were not able to change our agent address easily. We were advised to send a list of all our clients so that they could change them manually however lots of them didn't change and it became such a hassle.

I believe that most are now changed now.

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
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By ARAFVH
14th Apr 2018 09:17

Thanks, this is helpful support for my ICO case.

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By free-rider
14th Apr 2018 10:18

Have moved office 3 times in last 7 years and the PAYE agent address still has not been updated despite the numerous letters to Agent Maintainer Team.

This confuses the most of new clients as HMRC still put our very first address on PAYE authorisation letters to clients which was in Aberdeen, but we are now based in home counties.

They are jobsworth.

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