Any Answers debate: Who's cheating the taxpayer?
Nichola Ross Martin touched a nerve recently when she asked in Any Answers why HMRC was so reluctant to send out a list of PAYE payments.
Ross Martin made an error when paying HMRC through online banking. She accidentally left out part of a PAYE reference where amounts were allocated to the previous year and to ‘suspense’.
HMRC’s debt management and banking team then contacted her about alleged underpayments, but refused to provide a list of payments received. She was unable to see which payments were lost and work out why that had happened.
On attempting to get in touch with both the debt management and banking team, and the PAYE team, she was passed back and forth.
The debt and banking team "would not admit" that she had overpaid 2013/14 because they tried to allocate her month one payment back to 2012/13. They then asked for the money for 2013/14.
"Why will HMRC not provide a schedule of the payments that they receive?" she asked.
Ross Martin, a former editor of AccountingWEB, also flagged "an interesting side issue" issue with RTI, as her employer's online portal showed her PAYE totals as being wrong.
She also noticed that by looking at this, she can see what's allocated in and out of her PAYE. According to Ross-Martin it bore "no relation" to what the debt management and banking team were saying.
"The 2013/14 payment which had been allocated to 2012/13 was apparently correctly allocated back to 2013/14 in December 2013... so the phone call from DMB today was a total waste of time as the PAYE office had it correct all the time."
'Holding' on to taxpayers' money
Other disgruntled AccountingWEB members shared similar experiences, where HMRC was less than forthcoming or helpful with their PAYE errors, queries or repayments.
Two "frustrated" members suggested lodging complaints with the small claims court in this scenario. One has a client that has mistakenly overpaid an amount of PAYE - but is finding communications to recover it from the Revenue a year on difficult.
Other scenarios where members' clients have wanted to see payment statements include that of Southbankdelboy, who has a non computer-literate client. The client has fallen behind with his PAYE/NIC payments over the last few years. HMRC has not, after a request, to send a statement of account showing all liabilities, payments and interest.
The client wants to pay but cannot see what has been put through as charges and to make sure the any payments have been allocated correctly and as an agent, the member can't see a statement online.
Another similar issue in communication with the PAYE department came from ChrisDL, whose uncle had underpaid PAYE by a small amount, paid it into HMRC's PAYE bank account. But every three months, despite providing a letter saying it was paid in and details of the transaction, receives emails from HMRC demanding the money.
Many more members came on board to share their experiences, saying they were "frustrated" at in some cases, the lack of response, and in others, simply the ability not to see payments information in the agent's view.
HMRC has replied to AccountingWEB with their official response to the situation:
A spokesperson said:
"Routine provision of PAYE payment schedules stopped several years ago, bringing PAYE into line with other taxes, because it was not sustainable to continue due to an increasing number of requests.
"This change in approach was introduced in April 2011 and announced through Employer Bulletin Issue 38 (page 21) and subsequently incorporated into our guidance (DMBM520287), which can be accessed on the HMRC website at which is available to customers at DMBM520287, which can be accessed at: debt and return pursuit: PAYE: payment schedule requests: background."
Guidance provided by HMRC included:
- Customers are required to maintain their own records from which relevant information can be extracted
- Additionally, the Business Tax Dashboard was introduced for the use of customers and presented another means for them to find what payments had been received and how these were allocated
- Using these two sources resolves the majority of issues, but where exceptionally this doesn’t and a customer needs help with locating a limited number of payments, then the Revenue will provide assistance.
Have you had similar experiences with the Revenue? Comment below and let us know.