PAYE Online struggles with RTI filing volume
The government web gateway and HMRC’s PAYE computers slowed to a standstill as a result of the volume of RTI submissions that started arriving on Friday 11 April - the first payday of the new tax year.
After numerous complaints over the weekend, the tax department announced on its service availability page on Monday, “We are aware there have been service issues since mid-afternoon Friday 11th April, and apologise if you have experienced problems while trying to submit returns to us.”
The problem has affected RTI filings, SA Online, VAT, student loans and pensions reports. The department said the underlying issue had been resolved, but a backload had built up for submissions between Friday and Sunday.
“We are working to clear the backlog and expect to have done that within 24 hours.”
The diagnosis from AccountingWEB member coops456 was simple enough: “The usual Friday payday FPSs on top of thousands of year-end EPSs = inevitable bottleneck.”
By 8pm, Xcast complained that they were still waiting for acknowledgements for FPS submissions filed at 1.13pm.
On Saturday and Sunday, accountants who opted to work over the weekend rather than cope with Friday’s delays found the system’s behaviour became more random - some submissions breezed through, but acknowledgements for those filed the day before still hadn’t shown up.
Kazmc got through to the HMRC helpline and was told, “Yes they are receiving submissions however their system cannot 'pass' or 'fail' the data. So we are receiving successfully received emails from HMRC but the pass or fail marker is not being sent back to the payroll software.”
As the first member to start lobbying for an extension to the filing deadline on the 19th, Kazmc wrote to HMRC director-general for personal tax and got back the reply, “We will obviously not be applying penalties if customers have missed the deadline due to technical problems in our systems but hopefully we can resolve the problems well in advance of the deadline.”
The acknowledgement emails started showing up on Saturday - in their hundreds. Mike Watton got 13 acknowledgements for one SA return filed on Friday. JennieF received an average of 20 acknowledgements for her clients’ RTI submissions. Since some clients still had not received receipts, she had to open up all the 2013-14 payrolls again to check who all the emails were for.
Kazmc claimed the crown with more than 1,000 notifications.
An employer’s update sent out this afternoon confirmed, “Due to the high volume of submissions being made to the government gateway it may take up to 48 hours for you to receive an acknowledgement.”
Postscript, 17 April - HMRC contacted AccountingWEB to ask that we publish this clarifiction: “It is incorrect to suggest that the problems customers experienced when sending returns though the Gateway over the weekend were related to RTI transaction volumes. In fact our busiest day was Tuesday, when we received over 311,000 RTI submissions without impact on the service. The previous busiest day was 7th April 2014, when we received a total of 285,000 RTI submissions."
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