HMRC computers gone mad?

The Practitioner
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A strange week. On Monday a London firm of accountants forwarded me a letter addressed to them as the registered office of a company we took over many years ago - with a predictably snooty comment on the compliments slip. The letter was from HMRC Debt Management department, chasing overdue Corporation Tax. It seemed a bit odd as the registered office and trading address were updated on HMRC's file years ago.

I thought nothing more of it until yesterday when a client handed me a letter forwarded to him by his previous accountant, same source and same story although the registered office and sender's address were in a completely different part of the UK.

Today a client has faxed me a strange PAYE letter, apparently addressed to the director although it addresses him as "Mr Smith J Smith" (not actually Smith, I have changed it to preserve his anonymity!). The address used was out of date, and it quotes an eight character temporary-looking National Insurance number!

So it looks to me as though HMRC computer systems have had some sort of major meltdown - they seem to have some very dodgy taxpayer information on their files, and a very out of date address database that Debt Management offices are using. Has anyone else had similar problems?

Incidentally, I tried phoning the number on Mr Smith J Smith's letter only to hear a recorded message that told me my call couldn't be dealt with and then promptly hung up!


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21st Feb 2012 11:21

HMRC computers

Client has forwarded a letter demanding payment of self assessment tax as it supposedly had missed the January deadline. The amount claimed differs from the return.  No notice has been received from HMRC suggesting an amendment to the caluclation. The correct tax was cleared through client's bank on 24 January. It would appear not to be a scam as it is requesting payment using the normal HMRC methods.

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By Jimess
21st Feb 2012 11:40

PAYE processing at HMRC is dreadful

I received a refund notification and cheque for a client from the PAYE office in Cardiff for a year that the client was in SA and actually had tax liabilities, not to mention the fact that the cheque had been incorrectly issued to my practice when the client has never provided authority for HMRC to do so.  When I rang the HMRC helpline to find out how to return the cheque to them I was asked by the helpline adviser what I wanted to do with the cheque! Needless to say it has been marked as cancelled and returned to HMRC.  It will probably sit mouldering in an HMRC postbag for several weeks before the situation is corrected.  Why do HMRC's PAYE office find it so difficult to marry PAYE records up with SA records to prevent these very fundamental errors happening. The fact that the repayment was issued to an agent when there was no authority from the client to do so is extremely worrying.  

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By jfowen
21st Feb 2012 11:42

HMRC Computer has lost it's memory

Similar to the other posts, I had a call from a client this morning saying they've received a demand for unpaid tax, due 31st January. The amount matches the expected amount that should have been paid. The client's bank account shows payment was cleared 17th January. I went onto the HMRC agent website to look at the "current" position only to find this and several other clients have disappeared from my list of clients. Yet more wasted time and effort now to recheck the client list against that held by HMRC. Oddly, clients who I haven't acted for for several years have re-appeared, Perhaps the file has been restored from an old backup following a problem at HMRC. Would anyone at HMRC care to comment on what is going on?

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21st Feb 2012 13:25

Lost Clients

I have recentley "lost " 15 clients which now do not appear as Authorised Clients. Form 64-8 has been submitted and I am now phoning round to try to get them re instated.

More time wasted!

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21st Feb 2012 21:59

Disappearing clients

Had a couple of these too

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By ces.hlb
23rd Feb 2012 12:15

PAYE and SA not talking

We have now had 5 instances in our office of PAYE issuing assessments and tax refunds for 2010 when in each case SA returns had been submitted and tax paid on non PAYE income /gains.

In one instance the incorrect refund was over £5,000!

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By tedbuck
02nd Mar 2012 15:07


Had a conversation with an HMRC debt collector and was astonished to learn that they have a different computer system to HMRC generally so run a few weeks/ months adrift of the real world.

We have had most of the above mentioned plus a rash of PAYE assessments rectifying HMRC Coding errors in respect of people we haven't acted for for some years. Some of them go back several years.

Most of these problems emanate from Cardiff so perhaps their system doesn't speak English and can't communicate with the SA system.

Did I hear someone talking about real-time PAYE accounting? - Now that is a very sobering thought - just imagine the mayhem HMRC can cause with that.

Someone told me the other day that the last Treasury man who understood taxation was about to leave the Team. He also said that the treasury now have to get one of the training firms to teach them how to interpret the law. which they presumably write! Perhaps we should privatise the treasury function and get the CioT to run it for us. Are you listening Dave?

Following that why not dispense with HMRC and nationalise accountants (with huge compensation, enormous salaries and Gold Plated Pension Schemes) to act as a sort of financial NHS service - lets face it we couldn't help but do better! We could even return HMRC to being a local service where people actually know what they are talking about. The Big Society!!!!!!!!!

The problem is computers being used to replace people without there being people to weed out the glaringly obvious errors. Well what's a billion here or there in trillions of debt?

We've made it guys and gals - we are a genuine third world Country. where nothing works properly but the people in charge are doing ok thank you.


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