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Government launches online voluntary NI payments tool

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Taxpayers can now check for gaps in their national insurance record, make voluntary payments and receive confirmation their payment has been received via a new online service launched by the government today.

29th Apr 2024
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The Check your state pension forecast tool from HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been enhanced to make it a fully end-to-end solution where taxpayers can check their pension forecast and make voluntary payments.

This allows the majority of taxpayers under state pension age to view gaps in their national insurance (NI) record and pay voluntary contributions to fill them. 

Taxpayers can check how much their state pension could increase if they made voluntary national insurance contributions (NIC) and how much they would need to pay to achieve this. 

They can then use the new service to choose which years they would like to pay to fill, pay securely through the service and receive an email confirmation that their payment has been received and that their NI record will be updated.

The tool can be accessed via the Check your state pension forecast webpage on gov.uk or the HMRC app. Taxpayers can log in to the new service using their personal tax account login details. Those without an online HMRC account need to register on gov.uk.

The new service is available to most taxpayers, including those living abroad wishing to pay voluntary contributions for years they were resident in the UK. 

However, it is currently unavailable to those already receiving their state pension, the self-employed, or taxpayers currently living outside the UK with gaps incurred while working abroad. They will continue to manage their NICs as before.

Mind the service gap

The state pension forecast tool will come as a welcome change to the previous voluntary payments system, as reported by many taxpayers and AccountingWEB members. There have also been reports of missing reference numbers and even missing payments.

Taxpayers would have to decide how many NI years to buy, calculate the final amount, call HMRC to get an 18-digit reference number for this amount, record the reference number, send the money to HMRC, and then wait for the extra NI years to be credited to their record. According to reports, these payments could take up to 60 working days to process.

Thanks to an extension granted in June 2023, eligible taxpayers have until 5 April 2025 to pay voluntary contributions to make up gaps in their NI record between 6 April 2006 and 5 April 2018. From 6 April 2025, people can only pay voluntary contributions for the previous six tax years, in line with normal time limits.

The original deadline to fill such NIC gaps was 5 April 2023, but eager taxpayers flooded the HMRC helpline to make a one-off payment and found it impossible to get through.

In a statement about the new tool, the government added that paying voluntary contributions may not always increase their state pension. Taxpayers should use the new service to check before making any voluntary NI payments.

Replies (6)

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By FactChecker
29th Apr 2024 23:10

Hmmm, love the positive enthusiasm (there's little enough of it around) BUT ...

1. How confident are HMRC that they've fully 'cleaned' the base data, which only a few years ago was known to be the least reliable Govt database in active use?
- Partly due to the length of 'history' (which covers cards/stamps, paper files, keying into early IT, more than one major conversion of database technologies, and so on);
- Partly due to ownership 'confusion/ping-pong' between DWP and HMRC;
- Mostly due to majority of people not checking until after so many years that no other sources for corroborative evidence remain (many employers having departed for the afterlife long ago).

2. Just how strong/clear will be the warnings that you should, in most cases, speak to an IFA (or at least a qualified adviser) before deciding to purchase 'voluntary contributions?
HMRC and DWP do not have a good record of issuing advice that is appropriate to the enquiring individual - and in many cases seem to have leant towards maximising their 'take' rather than what would be best for the individual.
This is unlikely to be improved via a faceless online form, where you cannot ask it questions for which it isn't prepped and cannot enter data for which it doesn't have a predefined box.

It's only 6 years since I last requested forecasts ... and, after receiving each (unexplained) forecast, queried it on the basis of info they already held - such as number of full year's contributions, years contracted-out and then contracted back in, death of spouse, and so on.
The relevance? Each forecast jumped dramatically until I gave up ... but it was now almost twice what they'd 'offered' me only a few weeks previously!

Thanks (4)
Replying to FactChecker:
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By rmillaree
02nd May 2024 10:02

well said

for the last 5 years they should have been concentrating on automating the on/off tap for sole traders making it easy for individuals AND agents to log start and end dates and view "history" in that regard - hmrc are that clueless they dont even realise most people would rather simply do it themselves rather than filling out online form that will not work be rejected or make take months to be actioned.

as you say if this is simply themn trying to extort cash when they know their sytems might be wrong al the worse

"The relevance? Each forecast jumped dramatically until I gave up ... but it was now almost twice what they'd 'offered' me only a few weeks previously!"

beyond scary when with the best will in the world i guess its nigh on impossible for external parties to get much sense out of whether calcs are 25% right 50% right or completely wrong

Thanks (2)
Replying to FactChecker:
Rob Swan
By Rob Swan
03rd May 2024 14:54

Points put perfectly FactChecker.
So obviously on the take; so obviously HMRC 'know' they just don't have clean/relaible data.
On a similar note I remember ignoring a letter about missing NI payments back in the 80's, threatening reduced pension if I didn't make up waht's missing. My reaction: "Likely won't be much of a state pension when I get to that (ever more distant) horizon". Still think I made the right call ;)
HMRC just using a new tool to dig itself a bigger hole.

Thanks (0)
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By johnthegood
30th Apr 2024 08:26

And yet its still not available for agents, pretty much all our clients would expect that having given HMRC authority to use us as an agent we would be able to get this information for them.

Thanks (7)
Replying to johnthegood:
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By D Rixson
02nd May 2024 09:24

Agree!
I also note that it doesn't cover the self-employed.

Thanks (2)
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By rmillaree
02nd May 2024 09:56

great

However, it is currently unavailable to the self-employed

oh not so great

Thanks (2)