RTI stumbles into action

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RTI teething troubles over the weekend spilled over into the first week of the new tax year as HMRC’s upgraded computers struggled to cope with the workload.

The half-day strike called by the PCS civil service union did not help. With users encountering time outs and service delay messages from HMRC Online, the tax department’s helplines struggled to cope with demand, according to widespread reports from AccountingWEB members. The difficulties also extended to commercial software suppliers including Sage and Moneysoft.

“Sage phone lines are in melt down and [I] cannot get through,” commented George on Wednesday morning.

As previously reported, HMRC’s computers...

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About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and AccountingWEB.com.


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11th Apr 2013 11:07

Shock horror

Would it ever be any different with any "upgrades" HMRC bring in. Another farce that will never quite be right.

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By DHarris
11th Apr 2013 11:19

Annual schemes

HMRC have said that annual PAYE schemes are still possible however SAGE do no have any facility to allow this and after 45 minutes I was told that there is no work around. Not a great start!

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to Cloudcounter
11th Apr 2013 17:48

Annual Payroll
The instructions on HMRC web is to contact Accounts reference office and they will flag the scheme as annual thereby negating need for FPSs FO the 11 months out of 12.

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11th Apr 2013 11:27

annual pay work round

A possible work-round in Sage might be to run the annual salary in month 1, but advance their pay periods - essentially tell the software that they will be on holiday for the remaining 11 months and so you basically get the annual calculations.   This works in Iris Payroll Professional.

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11th Apr 2013 11:31

RTI Pilot Scheme

As other members, I found that 3 new PAYE schemes set up early in 2013 had been included in the RTI Pilot Scheme automatically. I was told by HMRC, initially, that this was because I had "ticked" the relevant box on the on-line application to register for the Pilot Scheme.

When told that this was most definitely not the case, and as I had the printed copy of the application in front of me to show that, HMRC then changed their version of events to advise that all new PAYE applications since the start of this year were automatically subject to the RTI Pilot Scheme.

How you can be automatically entered into the Pilot Scheme and not even be aware of it beggars belief, but this is typical HMRC.

However, on a more positive note, the problem was resolved by the kind lady at the other end of the phone "unticking" the RTI Pilot Scheme field in their records, and I am told problem solved. No need to deal with 2012/13 RTI at all in these cases.


We will wait and see!​

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11th Apr 2013 11:42

- "You're on the RTI Pilot

From the above it is clear, that like me, many are being told they were put on the RTI pilot without their knowledge,


Having just worked through this,


The Online Services Help Desk tell me they can't reset the RTI status - ( waste of 3 hours , 2 phone calls and 11 sorry we're busy try again laters)

Ordinary Employers Helpline, can access the RTI status, and simply reset the start date to 6th April (takes 2-3 days to activate) - 14 minute queue, but simple 2 minute answer

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11th Apr 2013 11:45

Cheapskate finds HMRC freebie PAYE software AOK

I'm a cheapskate cheapjack skinflint of an old b*gg*r so I thought I'd try out HMRC's free RTI online filing software before shelling out any hard-earned cash, and, to my delight, it works a treat. Even such things as annual salaries are easily catered for, too. The only downside is that you require a helluva lot of mouse clicking to get here there and everywhere, but so far I'm pleasantly surprised.

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By magocks
11th Apr 2013 11:47


I have been filing end of year 2012/13 forms for clients through HMRC PAYE online. While the P35 form was filed ok, when I selected to file Form P38(a) a message cam up saying it was an invalid request.

I phoned HMRC online and after 30m minutes waiting the adviser, after checking with tech support, said that there is a problem with this online form due to it becoming out of use under RTI. She said we need to download the form from HMRC website, complete it by hand and then post it to HMRC.

Interestingly a colleague of mine had the same problem and also phoned HMRC online services and they did not have a clue what my colleague was trying to tell them. They took her details and said tech support will contact her to fix the problem......she is still waiting. It seems as though the HMRC staff are gearded towards RTI and dont understand the end of year process for 2012-13.

This P38(a) mess seems to me to be a massive b*lls up by HMRC. Funny I don't think HMRC will even look at these forms if they are posted into them.

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to pauljohnston
11th Apr 2013 17:54

Doesn't need to be submitted just kept in file.

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11th Apr 2013 11:52

On or before/on or around?

As I mentioned in a previous post, the big problem with RTI seems to be getting clients to co-operate.  We have discovered that many clients pay their staff at random times - taking one client as an example, some staff get paid up front, some in arrears, some get an advance, some get commission paid at random times. the directors get paid willy-nilly.  You would expect the client to pay all of their staff at once - but it does not happen.

And there is confusion as to when best to make the FPS.  Should we press the button as soon as the payroll is run?  Should we wait a few days for the inevitable 'we forgot to tell you that X left last week' call?

This is only made a problem by this 'on or before' requirement.  It is impractical.  We can't make 4 FPS submissions every week. 

The temporary relaxation needs to be made permanent and also extended to all small businesses. I see no reason why the FPS can't be made within say the following week.  That would be ideal - make the FPS submission as we are about to run the following week's payroll.




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By mitzra
11th Apr 2013 13:00

Sage '''help''' line !!!!

I rang Sage payroll on 9th April for assistance with entering an attachment of earnings, (which I had not done before). The message was a wait of 1.5 to 2hours. So it not being urgent, decided to try the next day. The payroll was due to be submitted today so I had no choice but to try again. Prior to 9am the message was ''we are currently closed, our opening hours are 9am to....''. So at 9am I rang and was surprised to be told I'd have to wait up to 2hrs for a reply. One hour and 35 minutes later I got the information I needed - but why is it that Sage - one of the biggest payroll software providers, was unaware that the first week of RTI would be a busy time? Surely someone would have thought of bringing in extra staff, putting the correct message on the answer machine or at least having a seperate line for non-RTI enquiries. As usual I am very dissappointed with Sage at year end.

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11th Apr 2013 13:15

I think I'll email Margaret Hodge...

Do you remember that Margaret Hodge had a 'go' at Lin Homer at the Public Accounts committee meeting of 28 January? (see link for a viewing)  


>>> in that meeting Margaret made a comment...'RTI... that will be a disaster!)

I think I'll go onto her Twitter or Facebook link and direct her to this site and everyone's concerns. 

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11th Apr 2013 13:25

Sage help line

I too had to phone Sage help line and was told my call would be answered in one to one and a half hours......... I duly held on for more than two hours.  The advisor was very helpful but could not solve the problem - so utter waste of time and expense on the 0845 phone number.  After all Sage users pay for the help line which is not cheap.  I will be invoicing the cost of the call to Sage.

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11th Apr 2013 13:32

Sage help desk

I use Sage payroll but one day hope to have time to find something else.

However, I do find their helpdesk very useful.  I rang them yesterday and did wait for 80 minutes.  They say they do put extra staff on at this time of year and they do extend their opening hours and I believe them.  However, I don't suppose that there is a huge number of people who understand their systems well enough to keep helpdesk standards up.

By the way, I usually phone their sales line which is free and they transfer me into the queue.


I am not, and never have been, an employee of or shareholder in Sage.

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11th Apr 2013 13:54

Shock, Horror, RTI system fail

Who would have thought the RTI system would have so many teething problems?

Answer: Just about everybody!

There was obviously very little testing before the system went live.  This is typical of the way HMRC seems to operate.  One day they are going to wake up to the fact that software developers don't always tell the truth and that new computer systems need comprehensive testing, through more than one pilot, to get the majority of it right before going live.

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11th Apr 2013 14:52


Just 2 words "NOT SURPRISED" lol !!

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By jmleeco
11th Apr 2013 14:54

P38 (a) submission problem solved!

I also had the same problem with the P38(a) submission through the HMRC website, and read about you having the same problem.  I have just managed to submit the form by logging on, then going into the PAYE and clicking on the 'Filing Only Service', put the clients PAYE ref and name and was able to submit it just like that.  Other than that my RTI submissions using Moneysoft have gone very well.  All this extra time taken though which will be unbilled, as we don't feel its right to charge the clients extra when its the HMRC, are most accountants that do wages adding on extra costs to clients?  Thanks Jean

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11th Apr 2013 16:35



We understand that this is frustrating for our customers who are trying to get in touch and every year we do as much as possible to support our customers at this time of the year.

We have known that the introduction of RTI was going to be a challenge for customers for some while now and we’ve worked really hard to get people thinking about the impact this might have on their business, through either the pilot programme we ran or by making sure they have as much information as guidance as possible.

Every year’s Payroll Year End is an extremely busy time for customers and understandably a busy time for us as we get more calls asking for support on a range of topics.

This year we’ve seen even more customers come to Sage and this has meant more are looking for answers, particularly as the HMRC points them in our direction.

For us this means getting as many experts as possible to help customers and we’ve recruited more people than we’ve ever had –but we also have more customers than ever, which has led to an unprecedented call volume at a time when we’re traditionally busy.

We were open last weekend when the RTI came into force and we’re open 8-8 to try to help businesses throughout the day.

Following customer feedback we’re also adding extra online Q&As, webinars and FAQs – for more information, please visit www.sage.co.uk/rtisupport

Jon Cowan - Sage


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11th Apr 2013 16:37

Cheapskate use HMRC at your peril! It is not password protected

HMRC's own RTI software has no initial password protection. So all your staff can look at it. Yes it asks for a password to submit the RTI online, but, mischief making apart, that is fairly irrelevant!

Any cheap package has this at its front end.

A solution would be to open up another user in your computer and load the software into that password protected area, but how many would be capable of that manoeuvre?

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By Lympete
11th Apr 2013 17:48

Magical P35/P60 vanishing tricks

I have used HMRC PAYE Tools 2012 to submit the 2012/13 P35 and P14's then installed and transferred over to HMRC RTI (tools upgrade).  RTI is working perfectly.  My filed P35's and P14's for 2012/13 have vanished off the face of the earth!  

The employees have also disappeared from 2012/13.  Several hours wasted as nobody answers the online helpdesk and I do not have the resources to wait for ever on the end of an unanswered phone.  So everything re-input to File Only facility to be told my submission is rejected as the data for 2012/13 has already been filed.  

So where the hell is it and why can't I find and print my P60's???

Waiting in forlorn hope for an e-mail reply from online services help desk.  I do have a reference number so my query has been received.

A further client dealt with this morning.  I have no authority to file through the File Only facility??  Think I will wait for reply query one to be answered first!!





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to andy.partridge
12th Apr 2013 09:19

P60 vanishing tricks

Several years ago a client's annual submission went through to HMRC but was not shown as submitted at my end (cannot remember now whether it was noted as rejected or pending or ??).  I could not therefore print out P60s, nor resubmit. HMRC said they had a number of these cases, gave me a reference number and assured me their technical team was working on the problem.  However, this was never resolved, despite further telephone calls and letters over ensuing months.  Fortunately there were not too many P60s to write by hand....

I hope you fare better than I did!

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11th Apr 2013 20:41


Now that Mark Thatcher is back in the country, would it be possible that HMRC may be able to charge him with mis-selling?

He assured them that the computer system he was selling them was perfectly able to handle all the requirements of HMRC, both then and in the future. From the number of breakdowns and repairs it has had, this was certainly not the case.

Although cheaper than the competition, it has in the long run proved more costly!

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By RogerMT
12th Apr 2013 09:32

Mark T?

Mark Thatcher's behind it? Gawd help us all !

On a serious note - we use quickbooks and the RTI seems to have gone through with no problems so far. The only complaint I have is that after you've run the payroll a small screen pops up asking you to submit info to HMRC with a box for your Gateway ID and password. nowhere does it say that this is an FPS, but one assumes that's what it is?!

Re -HMRC's systems being upgraded over the end of the tax year (nice timing by HMRC, there - not), I took the details home over the weekend and managed to file 2 P11D online dispensation applications (back dated to 5/4/13 so hopefully I'll get it for 2012/13) and a VAT Return on the Sunday (7/4). Technically of course, this was possibly against Data Protection rules. You can't do anything in this country these days without falling foul of some belittling bureaucracy or other.

Although it is quite a while off yet, I cannot wait to retire!

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17th Apr 2013 18:15

New 2012/13 PAYE schemes automatically included in RTI

It's mentioned in the welcome to PAYE letter which HMRC sends to all new employers.  There was no opt in or opt out, it was automatic.

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17th Apr 2013 21:40

Mark T?

Mark persuaded HMRC (no nepotism involved?) to install a cheap American computer which he assured them would be fit for the purpose, then and in the future. It has not been fit since day one. Now that he is back in the country, he should be sued under The Sale of Goods Act.

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09th Sep 2013 12:52

RTI, - what a fritemare

Yet again bureaucracy fobbed onto small business, and particularly their accountants.
Guess how much extra I was able to charge my clients for the responsibility of filing the rti returns each week/month ON TIME ? £0.00.

At moment we are in a walking dream because HMRCy are very kindly not pestering us for fines for infringements. Once they take the block off and start lobbing fines everywhere people will start screaming.

For one small business running their own systems it is not a problem – if you are doing 100 payrolls you only have to miss a few and you are several hundred pounds per month down.

Thank heavens the government is reducing burdens on business as a policy, I hate to think what they would do if they didn’t care !


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