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All in a week's work: HMRC incident watch

25th Jul 2008
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Every week brings with it a fresh new challenge for accountants battling at the frontline with HMRC and its dreaded online fling systems. For one reason or another, this one has been a particularly bad one:


VAT – part of the overhaul?
Gavin reports that after HMRC updated the online vat registration yesterday it decided to wipe any un-submitted application as of 22/7/2008. This was confirmed by helpline staff he called this morning.

He says that he “was a bit disappointed as I will have to enter all the data again. There was no warning on the log in screen to the system so I am not sure how I was supposed to know this was happening.”

Tax refunds – new system, new delays?
Following HMRC’s recent announcement that no tax refunds would be paid unless full bank details are included on the SA return, accountants might have expected that the refund would be forthcoming if all the details were complete. Not so it seems...

Lee reports that if you submit a client's 2007/2008 Tax Return online that shows a refund and the taxpayer is dealt with by the Chapel Wharf Expat team, the tax refund will not automatically be paid to the client's bank account. Apparently a new policy in place for 2007/2008 means that staff are instructed to manually check/ issue the tax refund into the clients bank account.

He says that having submitted a client's Tax Return online on 21 July 2008, he questioned how long his client would have to wait and was informed that they are currently up to the end of June submissions. There is already a three week delay and we have not got to the busiest time of the year!

One team member indicated this morning that agents could write to HMRC to complain and gave an address in Bristol (The Repayment Security Team, AASNIU, HMRC, 101 Victoria Street, Bristol, BS1 6BG).

Says Lee: “This quite appalling state of affairs. Agents have not been told and we have angry clients whose money is being loaned to the Chancellor.”

Agent authorisation, again
Peter wrote into Any Answers pointing out a range of problems, including

  1. The database the Tax Office uses is different to the database the Online Agent Authorisation system uses.
  2. The letter sent to my clients which has the code doesn't get posted until after HMRC send me a letter warning me that the code is about to expire. HMRC leave post in warehouses for three weeks before sending letters. When I complained about this to HMRC they said the system works because the client gets the code before it expires! I pointed out to them that their concept of working is different to mine. I have been unable to effectively act for my clients while HMRC leave the letters in a warehouse.

He adds: Does anyone know why HMRC spell Middlesbrough incorrectly on the website? I was told they would correct it about four years ago but it is still wrong.

IT gremlins again: Self Assessment records mixed up
Earlier in the year agents details were mixed up, latest reports indicate that it might be prudent to double check your client SA records. Various members report names and addresses being mixed up.


The National Audit Office, in its latest report on HMRC’s transferormation programme remains remarkably upbeat with HMRC’s IT performance.

Accountingweb’s IT editor John Stokdyk finds this perplexing: He writes, “Taken at face value, the NAO report makes little allowance for the risks posed to the transformation programme by the stresses and strains already facing the department's current IT systems and change managers.”

What of the stresses and strains suffered by accountants?


Replies (4)

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By markabacus
01st Aug 2008 10:45

On-line registration - Given up
With most of our attempts to register on-line failing we have given up and have reverted back to the 64-8! I've reported the problem numerous times but all they say is the letters are being produced. Question is are they being mailed out? Most of our clients never receive them, never mind too late and it's not just in our local area.

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By geoff.pearce
31st Jul 2008 15:08

PDF View, Save & Print
I use the Revenue's "free" software to file simple returns on line. On Monday, I entered the details on to the site (approx 10 minutes) and then tried to view the Return in PDF format. No joy! After approx 90 minutes in two 'phone calls to online support and after clearing cookies, temporary files and tweaking adobe, the file which eventually downloaded had all of the figures BUT, no name, address or UTR for the taxpayer, nor the Revenue unique on-line reference number. On Wednesday, I used a computer at the loacal enquiry office, and still no joy. The clerk at the L.E.C. was helpfull and contacted the on-line help desk. It appears that they are aware of the problem and the were very apologetic. 31 January 2009 could be interesting!

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By AnonymousUser
30th Jul 2008 12:19

John, you know the answer to this:
What of the stresses and strains suffered by accountants?

Nobody cares.

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By stephenkendrew
27th Jul 2008 09:34

Surely you could not omit the CIS system from this.

One client recently had his gross payment status removed because his returns to 5 October 2007 and 5 November 2007 were still outstanding.

I telephoned the CIS helpline who told me that, according to their records, the October return was received on 17 October 2007 and the November return was received on 16 November 2007.

They had no idea why HMRC felt the returns were still outstanding - their advice was there was nothing they could do, I would need to appeal!

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