Tax Writer Taxwriter Ltd
Columnist
Share this content

HMRC refuses to give pay details to tax agents

21st Apr 2017
Tax Writer Taxwriter Ltd
Columnist
Share this content
phone
iStock_Gajus_phone

From 1 May 2017 HMRC will change its practice of confirming individual pay and tax details to tax agents, who ask for this information over the phone. 

Pay information

When you ring HMRC to ask for the pay and tax details of a client, you expect to be given that information, if you are authorised to act for the taxpayer you are asking about. From 1 May HMRC won’t give you that information, even if you are authorised to act. HMRC will instead send the information in a letter to the taxpayer, at his last known address, but they won’t send a copy of this letter to you.

Why?

HMRC says this change is to reduce call handling costs and to increase security for taxpayers. HMRC receives 2.7 million requests by phone for taxpayer pay and tax details each year, and not just for employed taxpayers who are within self assessment. A good deal of those calls are from high volume repayment agents, but many are not.

The security concerns are due to callers impersonating the taxpayer. There are also instances where the taxpayer is not aware they have signed an authorisation form 64-8 and/or a deed of assignment for tax repayments.

Unrepresented

When the taxpayer contacts HMRC, they will be given the requested details over the phone, or be directed to access their personal digital tax account. This does beg the question as whether this change in practice breaks the spirit of Your Charter (the taxpayers’ charter), which says at point 1.5:

“We’ll respect your wish to have someone else deal with us on your behalf, such as an accountant or a relative. To protect your privacy, we’ll only deal with them if they have been authorised to represent you, and we’ll deal with them courteously and professionally.”

Under the new practice, even where the agent is authorised to act, that agent will not be able to deal with HMRC on the taxpayer’s behalf.

Communication

From 1 May there will be a short recorded message on the Agent Dedicated Line (0300 200 3311) to explain the new procedure. HMRC will also write to 5,000 agents notifying them of the change, and will announce the new practice in the next edition of Agent Update

Digital solution

From late summer 2017 HMRC expects to have a digital solution in place to allow authorised tax agents to access pay and tax details for clients, without making a phone call. It’s not clear if this solution will be available to all tax agents, or if the agent will first have to pass a new security clearance to access the data.

HMRC has said that all new data access solutions will only be provided as APIs, as described by Matt Bailey in his article on Tax return pre-population data.

Replies (73)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By Pavilionaire
24th Apr 2017 17:04

I'm simply staggering by this news, it's wrong on SO many levels. I'll add 2 further points to those already made:

1. Increasingly, employers are providing incorrect PAYE information to taxpayers and on a number of occasions I've had to liaise with HMRC over incorrect P60s.

2. I've recently received an email from the wife of a client who has told me he has terminal cancer and it will be problematic for her to give us the 2016/17 Tax Return information re his many pensions. One call to HMRC would have sorted that, now it will be more paperwork for them at a stressful time.

I can't believe that in this day and age HMRC think the solution is a letter - it's like email had never been invented.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Pavilionaire:
avatar
By Kaylee100
25th Apr 2017 18:30

I have used the facility a handful of times including very sick clients, a deceased client where husband was struggling coping with his sudden loss and a taxpayer who was sure his P60 was wrong and, certainly, his bank statements supported this and his employer had gone AWOL.

I don't use it for those who should know better. They can get the right information to me or pay a penalty. Although it's rather frustrating when you know the information is there, just hidden.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By WhiteRose
24th Apr 2017 18:02

I have occasionally had to phone for this information. Sometimes if a client is elderly and in a muddle it distresses them to be told they have lost an important bit of paper, I would rather phone HMRC. But last time I did that I was told that the client should log on to their own account to access the data ( client in 80's). If only HMRC would show a bit of humanity. Enable agents to access the data before withdrawing help.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By carolelmcarre
24th Apr 2017 18:44

Yes, well...sometimes hard to work out what exactly HMRC are trying to do. Bit like MTD, lots of not very techy people providing and getting info to/from HMRC that actually will further dumb down the system but will probably result in HMRC collecting roughly the same amount of tax, if not more, and spending a lot less on the collection process (after the enormous set up MTD costs are ignored). What they should actually do is just make the whole tax system much simpler. As said elsewhere, I have never rung up for this information, (didn't know I could), so not much change for me.

Thanks (1)
Replying to carolelmcarre:
avatar
By the_Poacher
27th Apr 2017 13:41

Don't forget that HMRC largely does what it is told by its political masters. Normally ministers complicate the system.

Thanks (0)
Replying to carolelmcarre:
avatar
By the_Poacher
27th Apr 2017 13:41

Don't forget that HMRC largely does what it is told by its political masters. Normally ministers complicate the system.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Dave Watkinson
24th Apr 2017 23:13

Yet another example of HMRC's skewed (screwed) idea of MTD. Forget telephones and other modern means of communication - use snail mail instead. Just like PAYE. As a payroll bureau we now receive about 60-70 (at least) letters every week addressed to clients telling them how to pay PAYE liability electronically. Each and every one goes straight to shredding.

Thanks (0)
By taxbakbristol
25th Apr 2017 04:51

UK HM Revenue & Customs - The laughing stock of the Rest of the Civilised countries!
My fellow accountants in the Rest of The World cannot believe what these utter clowns are doing?
Nor can I
Roll on MTD as hopefully it will be the farce it looks like being and all the YES Men etc will migrate to the Insolvency Service where they will be knighted or Damed for their services to comedy !

Thanks (0)
avatar
By dgilmour51
25th Apr 2017 08:39

So, HMRC wants to ignore my agent.
They should remember that HMRC is merely an agency of HMG.
If they want to ignore my agency agreements then whats food for the goose . . .
HMRC is merely a tax collection agency of HMG.
HMG, as far as I am concerned is my MP.
If I elect to ignore HMGs agency agreements then all written communication with HMRC should go through the relevant MP.
Do that for a week and the issue will quickly resolve.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By andrewdiver
25th Apr 2017 09:01

It is not surprising as the provision of information isn't what this resource is intended for. This is a similar situation as the provision of forms SA302 for mortgage applications. HMRC was finding their limited resource stretched too much with providing mortgage reference information so they changed how this is provided. Whilst they are unable to say no specifically this situation as this will be part of their MTD systems the hurdle in providing information should deter agents and push them into finding a system which uses the HMRC API to provide this information automatically anyway.

Thanks (0)
Replying to andrewdiver:
avatar
By carnmores
25th Apr 2017 10:34

Andrew i wholeheartedly agree with you . i thought the general idea was for us to give them information not the other way round :-)

Thanks (0)
Replying to carnmores:
Morph
By kevinringer
25th Apr 2017 11:07

carnmores wrote:

Andrew i wholeheartedly agree with you . i thought the general idea was for us to give them information not the other way round :-)

I disagree. Why should we have to supply HMRC with information that HMRC already have? It makes no sense. If we have to supply them with information they already have, then they should tell us what they have.

Mind you, I've been arguing this with HMRC re CIS for the last 10 years. It would make it would save us and HMRC a lot of time if HMRC told us what CIS they have. I notice in the 31/01/17 MTD HMRC consultation responses HMRC no longer intend to make CIS data available to taxpayers from April 2018 as originally intended.

Thanks (1)
Replying to kevinringer:
avatar
By carnmores
25th Apr 2017 12:27

in case you had forgotten Kevin , which you havent , it is our job to tell the client how much tax they owe and also submit to HMRC so we need all the relevant information to do so that i grant you but its not HMRC's job to gather it for us . i tell clients that if they do not give me the full information required they may be fined if HMRC says that something is missing . i have no intention of ringing up HMRC to ask for bits of information: presumably the client is aware that this may cost them extra fees

Thanks (0)
Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
25th Apr 2017 13:41

someone mentioned CIS - I recently submitted an EPS company refund claim for CIS. HMRC came back and said that they couldnt reconcile my claim to their info. They sent me a list of CIS payments they had onfile and most of the certs were missing. I then had months of trying to get client/the clients CIS 'employer' to reissue the statements. I would imagine the PAYE info is easier to obtain that the CIS hence lack of HMRC's comment about CIS.
As someone else commented HMRC's computer systems dont join up yet so possibly they will get round to doing the CIS at a later date.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By justsotax
25th Apr 2017 14:39

it resembles the farce of the SA302. Whilst I have not used it often, as an odd one off it was one of the few times the Revenue have been useful. Of course these things would be solved if the PAYE (and SA302) showed up on the agent services but they don't...even with MTD apparently changing the world as we know it.

If these type of things happened I would believe the hype and bull$hit of how this will change the way we work...but in their absence I can only take it that what the Revenue are 'marketing' and what the wish to actually do (as others have mentioned....anyone for penalties) are two different things.

From where I sit they appear to be working on the basis that they can close the tax gap quicker by tripping people up on penalties than they can merely by collecting the 'correct' tax.

Thanks (0)
Replying to justsotax:
avatar
By carnmores
25th Apr 2017 18:05

there is an agreement between the CML & HMRC whereby the tax calculation from HMRC's website together with the tax overview for the year is acceptable as a substitute SA302 as a general rule i refuse to offer any further information and if the broker queries it refer them to said agreement press release.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Pavilionaire
26th Apr 2017 10:16

It's strange. I can't recall HMRC mentioning the withdrawal of this service from 1st May 2017 in the "Agent Services Talking Points" webinar I watched earlier this month.

They peddle these webinars as something of a 'two-way' communication tool, but their silence on something so important has, for me, undermined my confidence in the process.

There's no hint that any of the feedback from delegates is taken on board, and the polling questions they ask provides information that is only of any use to their focus groups and not for agents themselves - it's a tickbox exercise designed to given the appearance that they're listening when they're not.

The profession is under attack by stealth and - like in the EU Referendum - the experts are being ignored.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Pavilionaire:
avatar
By carnmores
26th Apr 2017 18:38

i joined this webinar too , i wonder how many other people did it was a real eye opener ; i am trying to join all of them as i think it will help deal with attempts to restrict agents in the furure

Thanks (0)
Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
27th Apr 2017 10:48

In the good old days of face to face Working Together meetings I attended one of the last ones in Exeter when MTD was first mooted/mentioned - in passing by the HMRC leader. I will always remember the reaction of a partner in a well known in the area medium sized firm.... ' So you're going to be doing our job then- how are we going to survive?'.
These WT meets were cancelled because of lack of attendance - 8 at this last meeting out of an area covering the South West to Bristol through to Southampton.
PS more proof that HMRC dont listen ... before the PAYE screen was launched two HMRC IT people came down to see me by train to Woking. The meeting lasted an hour and it was clear that they were not tax people - just IT.
I said that some accountants/providers of payroll services had lots of payroll clients to deal with - how would they know which clients had problems of HMRC not allocating payments correctly, overpayments sitting there etc etc. without actually going into each client to view? I said that we dont have time to trawl through each client. I suggested a 'flag' to indicate any problems. I told them best to put it on the first screen where the list of clients was shown.
When BETA was issued a few months later it wasnt there - ho hum.
Then I listened to a subsequent 'Talking Point' where an attendee suggested the same thing - a few weeks later it was there but not where I suggested on the front screen.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By ohgoodgodno
02nd May 2017 13:20

have just tried to get this information for a client

HMRC refused quoting the new guidelines, we've made a formal complaint to HMRC about the breach in our clients rights and withholding information that we are entitled to gather as agents

we urge all agents to do the same

Thanks (0)
Replying to ohgoodgodno:
avatar
By carnmores
02nd May 2017 14:31

read the latest agent update also this came in an email last week

'We have seen a growing number of security issues recently, related to requests from agents for their clients’ pay and tax and employment histories, through our helplines.

These include agents pretending to be their clients and calling on behalf of clients, who have not given the correct permissions. As a result, we are making changes to the way we supply this confidential data.

While we can continue to take requests for this information on our helplines, we can no longer provide the detailed personal information directly to agents over the phone.

From 2 May 2017 we will send the requested information directly to the clients, who will then be able to forward it to their agent for the relevant claim to be made or tax return completed.

This security measure will add some time to the process, so as a quicker alternative, please note that clients can access this information through the online service in their Personal Tax Account. They can now view, print and download their pay and tax details for CY and CY-1 in just a few minutes from their Personal Tax Account.

They will need their National Insurance number and a recent payslip, P60 or passport to sign-in for the first time.

We are working on a digital facility that will enable agents to access their clients’ details securely online, which is expected to go live later this year.'

seems fairly clear to me that they ain't going to budge , what's the problem get them to send it to the client if you are so desperate you cant wait till later in the year.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By gracegariff
29th Aug 2017 16:57

I just came off a call with HMRC where they have refused even to send the information to the client. The client must set up their personal tax account. I told the operative that it was unlikely that the client would do this, and they may not get an SA return, but absolutely no empathy at all. So now I will have to chase and chase the client, or maybe even go and hold their hand while they set up the account - all part of the service at no extra cost of course! I am furious - large glass of wine after work today.

Thanks (0)
Replying to gracegariff:
Morph
By kevinringer
29th Aug 2017 18:36

This needs escalating. Report it your accountancy body and put it on the Agent forum at https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/webchatprod/community/forums/list.page.

Thanks (0)

Pages