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SA returns filed as amendments?

HMRC's latest Agent Update warns against filing returns as amendments. How is this happening?

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I'm putting together a little item about HMRC's Self Assessment Agent Update for January 2020 that includes a section about SA returns submitted as amendments.

The guide comments: “We have received large numbers of returns online that were submitted as an amendment. We are unable to process these returns, as the original return has not been submitted. Please make sure that the type of return that you are submitting is correct (live/test and full return/amendment) to avoid delays in processing.”

Conversations with software houses suggests that it would be difficult (or impossible) to do this by accident, so we were wondering if there is a program setting the wrong indicators, or perhaps returns people thought they had filed were not being registered within the system.

Has anyone encountered the situation described or can provide evidence or an explanation about what's happening? We've asked HMRC to elaborate, but info provided from the field is always invaluable to identifying and alerting people to the source of any filing problems.

Thanks and have a good weekend - especially any of you putting in extra hours on SA tax returns.

Replies (14)

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By SXGuy
10th Jan 2020 20:00

Id say its more of a case of perhaps new accountants submitting amendments to returns they suspect were previously filed online.

If you file by paper you cant file an online amendment. It has to have been filed online first.

I don't believe any software is doing this by accident.

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Replying to SXGuy:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
10th Jan 2020 20:10

I’d say it’s a problem at HMRC’s end. I submitted my own return directly via HMRC gateway in December. As an experiment, I tried to ‘amend’ it but received an error message saying that I couldn’t amend it using the online service as it had not been filed using the same - which is patently nonsense.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By gillybean04
16th Jan 2020 09:48

Did you allow a few days for it to upload onto their system before trying to amend?

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By atleastisoundknowledgable...
10th Jan 2020 22:49

We accidentally ticked the ‘amended’ box in Taxcalc when submitting a return a few years ago - the client got a late filing penalty for which we successfully appealed by way of a quick (?!) call to Hmrc who changed the return status at their end. I think they had to manually ‘accept’ the amended return as being the actual return. 2016/17 I think.

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
By Moonbeam
12th Jan 2020 07:48

It is a bit too easy to tick the "amended" box in Taxcalc. Although I've not yet done that by accident myself, it's the sort of thing I might do if not careful.
So I do agree that software design is an issue.

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
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By legerman
16th Jan 2020 12:37

atleastisoundknowledgable... wrote:

We accidentally ticked the ‘amended’ box in Taxcalc when submitting a return a few years ago - the client got a late filing penalty for which we successfully appealed by way of a quick (?!) call to Hmrc who changed the return status at their end. I think they had to manually ‘accept’ the amended return as being the actual return. 2016/17 I think.

Same here only in Taxfiler. Client got a penalty and I phoned up to have a moan when I knew I'd submitted and they informed me I had submitted an amended return when there wasn't one on the system. They sorted it out over the phone and cancelled the penalty.

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By Tim Vane
11th Jan 2020 02:31

Clearly an issue with HMRC servers.

The server should reject an amended return if there is no original on file, but for some reason it doesn’t. It happily rejects an original return if there is already one on file so they have clearly coded for it but some HMRC programmer must have forgotten to write the other half of the code.

It works fine for CT, so it looks like a bug just in their SA processing. Instead of spending a day or two to fix the issue and make life easier for everyone they have instead decided to run a public awareness campaign to blame everyone else for their incompetence.

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By JDBENJAMIN
11th Jan 2020 12:22

Software usually has an amended return box to tick, so it is easily possible to accidentally submit a return as an amendment when no original has been filed. I've done it myself once in Taxfiler, as the amended return tickbox can easily be mistaken for something else if you are in a hurry.

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Replying to JDBENJAMIN:
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By carnmores
12th Jan 2020 19:02

Agreed, me too!

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Replying to carnmores:
Sparkly Orange
By Sparkly
12th Jan 2020 21:19

Me too in Tax filer, there are so many boxes to tick through just to get 1 Tax Return to file it's easily done in error and it doesn't get rejected. If HMRC can't accept them then why don't they sort their programming out so that they do get rejected

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Replying to Sparkly:
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By lincolnartist
12th Jan 2020 22:32

Yes having to click to confirm the return, then again to submit is a bit of a nuisance

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keep calm and have a cuppa
By tbk
14th Jan 2020 09:44

I thought the amount of security that HMRC introduced when logging in to my SA account was a bit over the top when it first came in, who would be interested in my tax numbers I thought. Until I read it was being introduced because they had problems with people hacking SA accounts, and posting amendments that requested refunds to the hackers' bank accounts. Could this be a mass fail along those lines?

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KellyW
By kellywilson80
14th Jan 2020 13:40

I'm not an expert but maybe HMRC want to be protected from some cyber attacks or similar?

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By Joe Alderson
17th Jan 2020 10:06

We have had a couple of returns filed that went missing because they were filed as amendments according to HMRC. We use IRIS any have to specifically change it to an amended return before filing. I suspect that this is not human error, but proving it is a different matter. It would make sense to me that it's something on HMRC's end causing these problems.

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