HMRC addresses SEISS grant data concernsby
HMRC has come back to AccountingWEB about recent problems raised by AccountingWEB members over erroneous SEISS figures appearing in taxpayers’ online accounts.
The inflated SEISS figures that appeared on pre-populated tax returns in commercial software arose from a mid-August application programming interface (API) update that displayed SEISS grant values in pence rather than pounds.
These APIs are designed to pass data between HMRC’s central computers and commercial tax applications and should mirror the information displayed in the taxpayer’s online account. While the updated API went through HMRC’s end-to-end testing process, there was a misunderstanding among the testers about how the data would be formatted at different stages of the process, the department said.
By the end of the last week in August, HMRC had fixed the formatting error. But as it made clear in messages to software developers and media during August, the self assessment computers would continue to correct returns if the amount of SEISS grant entered did not match its records.
This aspect of the department’s handling of SEISS grant figures continued to cause trouble for taxpayers and agents.
Double counting SEISS figures
AccountingWEB member paulhelliker raised an issue where it appeared the self assessment computers were taking the SEISS grant figures entered correctly in box 27.1 of TaxCalc’s personal tax program. But in five separate cases, HMRC’s calculation appeared to have added the SEISS grant into the profits and then brought the same SEISS figure back into box 27.1.
HMRC was not in a position to discuss specific examples based on what has been published on AccountingWEB, but indicated that it was not aware of this duplication issue.
Yet DavidAWilks commented on last week’s news report that he also had a case where an amended tax calculation was sent claiming an underpayment of tax because the SEISS information on the tax return did not match “the figure we hold”.
The AccountingWEB member continued: “No details as to the figure HMRC are holding and when I contacted HMRC on the dedicated line the operative had no idea either. There was just a note of the amendment on my client's record,” he wrote.
Tax department perspective
HMRC sources confirmed that in many instances 2020/21 tax returns have been submitted with incorrect SEISS grant figures, or the information has been entered into the wrong field, such as the “Any other income” box.
To deal with these situations HMRC added an automatic check on returns filed after 19 June that corrects any figures that do not align with the records it holds.
Taxpayers and their authorised agents will be informed when their return is corrected with a statement of account explaining what was corrected and why, the department said.
The department added that any corrections should be checked to ensure the individual was not being taxed twice for their SEISS grants. Detailed instructions on how to check the adjustment are available on HMRC’s website.
Are you one of those tax advisers who has encountered anomalies in the SEISS grant totals on clients’ tax returns? Make sure HMRC knows how widespread the problem is by sharing your experiences below.
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