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HMRC begins emailing self assessment reminders

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16th Jan 2015
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HMRC is no longer sending paper self assessment reminders to taxpayers who have yet to file a return.

However they are sending 650,000 email reminders out to those who have yet to file starting today.

AccountingWEB members questioned why clients had not yet received reminders on the site recently, after they noticed clients who had yet to file a return had not received their usual warning notice from the Revenue in December, usually accompanied by a blank payslip.

One member, ddcaaccountancy said he determined from a discussion via the Agent helpline that this would not be happening this year.

They said: "It appears based on a discussion I had with the Agent helpline of HMRC today, no self assessment reminders or payslips are being sent to taxpayers yet to file a return."

But a spokesperson told AccountingWEB they have started sending email reminders today.

"This move is part of HMRC’s drive to provide a more modern and digital service to its customers and means that it can use real-time information to contact customers, instead of relying on letters which are often out-of-date by the time they arrive on doorsteps, because of the long lead times between printing and posting them." 

Emails won't contain any confidential information and are only meant to remind people to take action before they miss the deadline.

The decision to send emails follows the recent launch of HMRC’s digital SA service, which replaces paper notices and letters for those who opt into the service.

In previous years, HMRC has issued warnings to taxpayers in December if a return still had not been received. These were called SA309A, SA309C and SA309E and were issued alongside a blank payslip. In February, a final demand is issued informing those who haven't filed by the 31 online filing deadline of the consequences. 

The Revenue has developed a three-point protocol to help taxpayers identify genuine HMRC emails. 

  • HMRC emails to customers will only contain the following: Generic reminders e.g. to file your tax return and pay your bill by 31 January, notifications about a key change or event e.g. you have made a payment or your tax code has changed
  • HMRC emails will never include: Financial information, such as details of outstanding payments or tax refunds, Active links to a customer’s account, log-on pages, iForms, active links to sites outside HMRC or GOV.U and attachments.
  • HMRC emails will always include the department’s logo and the customer’s full name, as held on their records

Replies (28)

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By kdbr
16th Jan 2015 11:40

Payslips

So no payslips in the post.  Is there a downloadable version this year.  And how many clients are going to need us to direct them to HMRC payment pages?  I know they don't want cheques in the post but this I just set up for a whole host of late payments and the arguments over interest etc.

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Time for change
By Time for change
16th Jan 2015 11:42

Generally, a move forward

However, why do agents, who genuinely try to co-operate with HMRC, have to find these things out for themselves;

One member, ddcaaccountancy said he determined from a discussion via the Agent helpline that this would not be happening this year.

They said: "It appears based on a discussion I had with the Agent helpline of HMRC today, no self assessment reminders or payslips are being sent to taxpayers yet to file a return."

A more worrying scenario is that, over recent weeks, I've seen well produced and highly believable scam emails, which purport to originate from HMRC.

Communication, in my view, still has some way to go, if HMRC are to become more credible.

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Stewie
By Stewie Griffin
16th Jan 2015 12:22

Where have they got the email addresses from?

Presumably they can only email to those that they have an email address for?  So, no email on record, no reminder?

If this was to be the plan, wouldn't it have been a good idea to write to everyone first telling them and giving them an opportunity to register an email address with HMRC before going down this route

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
16th Jan 2015 12:42

.

Well quite Stewie.

We dont ever provide HMRC with email addresses for our clients, not least due to the volume of "pishing" emails its nice to tell them "if you get an email from HMRC, it isn't from them as they dont hold your email address".

What HMRC *ought* to do if they want to start using email is to:

1. Ask tax payers first to collect valid emails.  This will need to be a letter in the post. 

2. Request some sort of 'challenge' data

3. When sending an email out to the client, include the 'challenge' data prominently so clients know it is really from HMRC. 

4. Make it easy to update and maintain all of the above.

 

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By kdbr
16th Jan 2015 12:53

and how many taxpayers have been told by their agents in the past month - 'your payslip will arrive shortly' - is it HMRC that are going to face the extra work for this, course not, as usual

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By DMGbus
16th Jan 2015 13:44

Payslip link - payslip to pay by post

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payinghmrc/payslip-sa1.htm

For other methods...

https://www.gov.uk/pay-self-assessment-tax-bill/by-debit-or-credit-card-...

By not issuing payslips for use across a bank or Post Office counter there might be a bank charges saving for HMRC.

I remember the downloadable payslip as form number SA361, so put SA£61 in the search box on HMRC's .gov.uk webpage and got no results.

So instead I used Google and eventually found the above links.

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By IanRiley
16th Jan 2015 15:17

There's only going to be two outcomes to this

1) People will write many more cheques and send to Bradford with the downloadable payslip. All these will need human intervention in Bradford and there'll be a logjam.

 

2) More people will pay via the santander facility and it will crash.

Already had a number of clients complain that they won't be able to pay over the post office/bank counter.

 

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
16th Jan 2015 16:53

Marked thread re payslips

..

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
17th Jan 2015 11:02

Some of my clients wont know..

I had one client yesterday saying that it didnt matter that a payslip had not arrived as he would go into the nearest HMRC office and pay as he normally has done. I had to tell him they had closed

When will HMRC understand that many people still dont have computers/emails etc.

I too have had to download payslips and give/send to clients to use.

 

 

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
17th Jan 2015 11:22

Have you seen this of HMRC's nwe Gov website?
If you don’t have a paying-in slip

You’ll need to pay by another method instead, eg:

debit or credit card onlineonline or telephone bankingDirect Debit

https://www.gov.uk/pay-self-assessment-tax-bill/post-office

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By WongR
17th Jan 2015 18:33

Typical HMRC shambles

Typical HMRC - out of touch with the general public.

This is obviously another money saving measure, with additional greater opportunities to fine the general tax payer for extra revenue.

I know of many people whom actually begin to sort out their tax affairs on the receipt of these letters and payment slips.

 

It will be interesting, when more and more of the public try and rely on HMRC emails and then fall to phishing scams, would someone then bring HMRC to task over this foolish approach.  I for one have always told clients not to trust emails purporting to be from HMRC and indeed it will seem all too easy for scammers to purport to be HMRC and take advantage of the new change of situation.  

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By pauljohnston
19th Jan 2015 12:31

Payslip

Why can not this be included either on the notice to file or on the full return that they insist on sendind out.  It would save somuch effort.

THose clients who dont have computers or have sight problems need to pay by post. 

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By buttinski
21st Jan 2015 20:01

Just another reason

To retire

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By pauljohnston
22nd Jan 2015 08:47

@buttinski

Lucky you.  But you will still have to pay your self-assessment!  Sending a cheque?

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By KateR
25th Jan 2015 11:42

No postal reminders or payslips

I am in agreement with what has been said before. Many of my clients have received the scam tax- rebate emails and I've always told them to ignore any email purporting to come from HMRC because they don't have email addresses. So as ever the burden falls on the overworked accountant to check which clients' returns are outstanding and send reminders. As for no payslips, what about the older tax-payers who don't use computers/online banking etc and like to pop into their bank with a payslip. Is this age discrimination?

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By Eric T
26th Jan 2015 15:37

So, HMRC are now going to e-mail taxpayers - after stressing for years that they "never e-mail taxpayers directly"?

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By pauljohnston
26th Jan 2015 17:06

It appears that

HMRC have agained backed a loser .  Having told everyone to ignore emails purporting to be from them.  There is not much chance of the majority being read.

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By VLH
27th Jan 2015 11:06

Paying by internet banking...

Is all very well if the bill isn't for very much.  One of my organised clients put his tax money in a building society account.

Due to Money Laundering restrictions on transfers it took him 13 transactions over 9 days to pay his tax bill!

Tax needn't be taxing - my foot - to put it politely!

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By SimonP
27th Jan 2015 19:23

Tax doesn't have to be taxing, unless you have to deal with HMRC

I have just spent almost 45 minutes speaking to a client over the telephone trying to explain how she can pay her tax. The problem is that she doesn't want to pay over the internet and cannot mail off a cheque until tomorrow evening which means it'll arrive late at HMRC. She has been waiting for the usual Xmas reminder/payslip.

So I suggested telephone banking or pop into her bank or local Post Office. Use the payslip they sent you with the reminder, I said. "What payslip? What reminder?" That's when I discovered that they no longer exist. Caca!

OK. Let's try this another way. Download a payslip [SA361] from the HMRC website. "Simple enough", she said. "Hang on though, at the very bottom where it says PRINT, it says this cannot be used at a bank or Post Office."

She is now going to hunt through her previous years' paperwork and try and find an old payslip to use.

This is absolutely ludicrous!

Best part of an (unchargeable) hour wasted by me plus my client's time and whatever extra time she spends searching for an old payslip. She never got the reminder email (mentioned in this article) from HMRC but then how could she since they don't have her email address.

How stupid is HMRC? Sorry, that's a rather rhetorical question and I know the answer anyway.

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By WongR
28th Jan 2015 10:32

Its all about cost cutting... and trying to leech more revenue in the way of fines and interest.  Due to the high work load I haven't been watching much television but is it me or is the drive for tax return submission for the 31 Jan deadline much more low key.  I didn't see any of the usual tv and billboard adverts... Clearly HMRC are taking a new approach here....

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By Homeworker
28th Jan 2015 14:58

more about raising revenues?

I too was telling clients up to about a week ago to wait for the payslips.  Now I am wasting time sending instructions about how to pay or printing off payslips for them to send by post, so some payments will undoubtedly be late.

However, I am more concerned that the lack of paper reminders means that more unrepresented taxpayers (sorry, customers!) will miss the deadline for their returns and HMRC will just sit back and rake in the penalties.  I cant believe that they have all registered for email reminders and I know that some of our own clients managed (or chose) to forget until I chased them up last month.

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By KateR
28th Jan 2015 17:34

No postal reminders or payslips

Just spoken to an elderly client who popped into her bank with HMRC account details which I had given her and helpful cashier stuck her debit card into the chip & pin machine and did a faster payment there and then. 

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Replying to DJKL:
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By SimonP
29th Jan 2015 14:55

Philanthropy still thrives.

KateR wrote:

Just spoken to an elderly client who popped into her bank with HMRC account details which I had given her and helpful cashier stuck her debit card into the chip & pin machine and did a faster payment there and then. 

 

That's wonderful! Now, if you can just give me the bank address and the name of the cashier, I'll go and see her since she is using her own debit card to pay other people's tax bills. 

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By KateR
29th Jan 2015 16:45

Philanthropy still thrives

And obviously pedantry. Actually the cashier was male so the 'her' referred to in every case was my client.

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Replying to PennyPincher:
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By SimonP
30th Jan 2015 17:51

Lighten up, my dear.

KateR wrote:

And obviously pedantry. Actually the cashier was male so the 'her' referred to in every case was my client.

This is the silly season after all.

Pedantic? Maybe. I have found it to have been an extremely useful trait when preparing accounts and tax returns over the past **hrmmph** years. Accuracy is everything and ensuring that the information provided cannot be misinterpreted is very important.

In this instance, you knew the cashier was a male but failed to pass on that vital nugget of information to us readers. Therefore, the sentence in question was obviously ambiguous and capable of misinterpretation, deliberate or otherwise.

But as I said initially, lighten up. Smile. Have fun now because the silly season ends tomorrow night.

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Time for change
By Time for change
30th Jan 2015 16:00

In passing

wondered if there had been any official announcement, from HMRC, in respect of them no longer issuing postal reminders and payslips.

If there hasn't been any such it would again bring into question HMRC's outlook that taxpayers are "customers", as customers, are usually kept informed?

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By Pradip Shah_1
01st Feb 2015 18:35

PAYSLIPS, REMINDERS, PAYING BY DIRECT DEBIT

I rang the Agent dedicated Line on 30/01/2015 to enquire about the Payslip reminders for a couple of my clients. The HMRC Agent at the Contact Centre was very helpful in his communication with me, however the following points have arisen:-

1. According to the Agent, they had an internal communication in Mid December 2014, that HMRC were not sending any Payslip Reminders to Tax Payers who were enrolled digitally with them and it was my understanding, that it also included clients for whom you filed the Returns Online.

2. The Agent provided me with the Self Assessment Payment Line Number for Tax Payers who wished to pay by using a Debit/Credit Card. He also informed me that they would be open up to 6:00 P.M. on 31/01/2015 to accept payments by telephone. A Payment was made on that number in the morning of 31/01/15 and was asked of the Agent on that number, what time they would be open up to that day to take payments and the answer was 10: P.M. A separate payment was made at about 5:45 P.M.on the Payment Line and once again was asked of the Agent, what time the would be taking payments up to and was informed that the lines would be closing at 6:00 P.M. and re open on Monday 02 February 2015 at 8:00 A.M. Some clients who had been hoping to make telephone payments by 10:00 P.M. were now not going to be able to do so and the earliest that they would now do so would be on 02/02/2015, thereby incurring 1 or 2 days of Interest Charges. It would definitely help if all the HMRC Staff had the correct information when any body called them.

3. I also enquired if the Tax could be paid by variable Direct Debit. I was informed that it is not possible as any other normal Direct Debit. No doubt others have had the same issue, using Direct Debit for PAYE payments  etc. There are Tax Payers who are happy to pay by Variable Direct Debit all their different Taxes at or by due dates - why can't the HMRC accommodate it. Similar issue with payment of Corporation Tax - you can only pay online!

It would appear that if the HMRC were a Commercial Organisation and that the Tax Payers had a choice, then most of them would not want to have any thing to do with them.

 

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Replying to ingham.p:
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By WongR
03rd Feb 2015 13:32

If they were a commercial organisation...

Pradip Shah_1 wrote:

It would appear that if the HMRC were a Commercial Organisation and that the Tax Payers had a choice, then most of them would not want to have any thing to do with them.

 

If they were a commercial organisation, they'd surely be investigated by OFT for abuse of monopoly powers by now... 

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