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Reading through the financial figures

HMRC to enhance self assessment pre-population

21st Nov 2018
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Two of the biggest self assessment pre-population complaints are set to be rectified in HMRC’s phase two roll out next spring.

Improved PAYE and pension data are both chalked on HMRC’s pre-population to-do list.

From 6 April 2019, HMRC’s phase two pre-population release will include:

  • Data available earlier in the tax year and maybe for the current year (currently unavailable until September after PAYE reconciliation has completed)
  • Pensions data by provider, not aggregated
  • Improved data quality (for example, pensions are sometimes reported as employments)
  • More data, such as state pensions and bank interest

BTCSoftware’s Rob Ellis said this roll out is what his users have been crying out for. “It's giving exactly what our users want and probably what the whole agent community wants.”

Better PAYE data

Not knowing when the PAYE data is going to be ready has been a tax adviser bugbear. Advisers who prepare tax returns as soon as the gateway opens on 6 April have not had access to this information until the end of May – and even longer for those with P11d.

According to Ellis, this holdup has confused some of his users. They get data for some of their taxpayers and not for other taxpayers. “Our users never really know when the data is going to be ready,” he said.

But in the phase two roll out, the data will be available for everybody – and this includes P11d data. Initially, HMRC will use forecast data to calculate the P11d pre-population data. Before users are able to submit their P11ds, the prompted users will need to “firm up” the data.

Pension data

The other big complaint is pension data. It currently arrives in one lump sum figure – eg the pre-population would produce a taxpayer’s four private pensions as one figure, explained Ellis. Advisers are often left unsure how much is from which pension.

“Our customers like to see the individual amount so they can show the client what makes up the lump sum figure that goes on the tax return,” said Ellis. But the phrase two SA pre-population roll out will show pensions data by provider, not aggregated.

“That's been missing for the private pension but they've made that change to serve us the pension in the same way they serve us in employment. So if you have multiple employment you get one record per employment. Now we'll get one per private pension.”

HMRC has also improved the data available in the expense breakdown, adding many more categories to the expenses.

Why not sooner?

The soon-to-be released pre-population features will be welcomed by tax accountants at the self assessment coalface but as January’s peak tax return season beckons, many will be asking why can’t these features come sooner?

The short answer is because it’s not ready at the moment. The features are not yet even in testing and are currently residing in a private alpha service. But while there is a modicum of chance the features could be ready in January, and maybe offered as an option, Ellis said releases late in the self assessment year are not normally welcome.

For the obvious deluge of tax return reasons, software providers tend to avoid updates during December and January, unless they’re forced.

Replies (8)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
21st Nov 2018 18:05

This is what we have been asking for.

The current prepopulation is far too slow. Even now at the tail end of the tax season its often still not there, and often incomplete so dangerous to rely on.

However how on earth is putting made up P11D data in going to help anyone? Making up stuff just causes a long list of problems and corrections. The answer to the P11D problem is to ensure it get filed by 19th April. There is no good reason it cant be filed at the year end other than poor organisation.

Thanks (1)
By User deleted
21st Nov 2018 18:58

In Taxfiler, I have clicked on the "Get info from HMRC" button (or whatever its called) on every return I have prepared this year.

Every single case, it says there is no information to give me.

Useless AF somewhere along the line

Thanks (4)
By EnglishRose
21st Nov 2018 20:35

As long as they get the correct data in. I was surprised with my last tax return that HMRC had my cashed in pension lump sums as to one as a new "employment" and kept nudging me that I was an employee (I have not been an employee for 20 years) and had the other pension I had cashed in as pension. So either one of the pension companies told HMRC I was an employee or HMRC wrongly decided that pension pay out was employment income.

Thanks (2)
Replying to EnglishRose:
By GHarr497688
22nd Nov 2018 21:59

I had a lump sum which they put in week 1 and multiplied by 52 weeks giving me an income of £552000 ( I wish) . when I queried it they seemed perplexed and would get back to me - they then deleted of the computer and denied it was ever their . What hope have we with a corrupt tax system lol

Thanks (3)
By Polymath1
22nd Nov 2018 10:46

No mention of 'In year' tax code adjustments which are incorrectly pre-populated in the self assessment form as prior year unpaid tax?
This has been a systemic error which is easy for the taxpayer to misunderstand or miss. Hopefully it will be corrected for 2018-19.

Thanks (1)
By kevinringer
22nd Nov 2018 14:27

This is great news as long as it actually works. The 2018 API has returned less data than the 2017 API.

Thanks (0)
Chris M
By mr. mischief
23rd Nov 2018 13:19

I think it is useful, at least HMRC can get some IT projects right. Even when the downloads are wrong or incomplete - which is about 20% of the time across my client base - it gives you a bit of useful insight into the problems with RTI which still have not been fixed all these years later.

Thanks (0)
By Paul D Utherone
04th Dec 2018 23:27

I am sure that I saw an HMRC post that said it had been put back from 2018-19 because of budget issues (presumbaly trying to plan for Brexit). Can't find it now though

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