HMRC clarifies generic notices situation

Kashflow logo
Share this content

HMRC has responded to queries raised on AccountingWEB about incorrect RTI messages warning employers that they had not filed their monthly PAYE returns in January.

As revealed last week by HMRC director general for personal tax Ruth Own, 400,000 electronic messages were automatically generated within HMRC’s real time information (RTI) system on 7 February to alert employers who had not filed the expected returns.

The trouble was that many employers and advisers had done so, with hundreds of examples covering a range of scenarios presented in evidence.

“We haven’t been able to target them as sharply as we hoped and they went to people who had complied,” Owen acknowledged.

She explained that the messages were intended to explain to employers in the run up to automatic penalties that if they continued to file RTI returns late, or fail to make their payments on time, they would get penalties under the automatic regime. Because of the continuing problems employers and payroll agents have been experiencing with RTI, Owen took the decision not just to suspend automatic penalties, but also to withdraw the generic notification system (GNS) alerts for late filing.

HMRC had already decided to suspend the GNS messages, but the January reminders went out on 7 February because “we didn’t get to the system quickly enough to stop them”, Owen said.

“They have gone out to some people who didn’t need reminding. We put a system update in place that day to reassure taxpayers they didn’t need to act.”

In the wake of the furore caused by the messages, AccountingWEB put the following points raised by members to HMRC:

  • Is there any relationship between the notices and the data missing from employers’ dashboards?
  • Can HMRC confirm the advice in circulation that it was safe to ignore “no payment EPS” notifications?
  • Why can’t you file a nil return until after the 5th of each month, when it will be assessed as late?

HMRC’s detailed responses are presented below, alongside Owen’s explanations from her recent AccountingWEB interview...

Please Login or Register to read the full article

The full article is available to registered members only. To read the rest of this article you’ll need to login or register. Registration is FREE and allows you to view all content, ask questions, comment and much more.

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and


Please login or register to join the discussion.

04th Mar 2014 09:09

Missing the target

Ruth Owen wrote:
“We haven’t been able to target them as sharply as we hoped and they went to people who had complied,” Owen acknowledged.

It's not exactly a tricky divide. There are employers who have complied and those that haven't. It is not a fuzzy dividing line and targeting them "sharply" does not require a difficult judgement call. If they would be honest about the issues, without cloaking them in this double-speak, then we might have more respect for HMRC. As it is, statements like this just reinforce the mistrust of them amongst accountants and taxpayers.

Thanks (8)
05th Mar 2014 12:11

Double speak

Handy language for any future failures on my part ...."I wasn't able to target my FPS's as sharply as I'd hoped, so please cancel the fine"

Thanks (4)
04th Mar 2014 10:46


Well quite Stepurhan, it seems to suggest the "fines machine" is not reading from live data which bodes very badly for the design of the system.

One of the main issues with "old" payroll was there seemed to be various systems in which basic standing data was resident, which means fines sent out for long dead payrolls etc as the systems didn't seem to every get updated correctly. 




Thanks (1)
05th Mar 2014 12:56

 "HMRC says it does not want

 "HMRC says it does not want to charge penalties"  ...... haha stop it you're cracking me up ! 

Thanks (1)
By DMGbus
05th Mar 2014 13:38

Where's the evidence?

Where's the evidence to back up what HMRC say, let's see some specifics rather than vagueness:

" Some are caused by the way employers have entered data on their submissions and some as a result of unexpected problems with HMRC’s systems.  " ""

Another face-saving spin-doctored poltical statement.

When will HMRC face upto their errors, say sorry and learn from their mistakes without inferring that employers (or employers software) is to blame?"


Thanks (2)
05th Mar 2014 14:22

Client concern

Sadly these errors can reflect back on us as accountants.

I have had a client come to me when they see the dashboard wrong and assume that we have made a mistake.

Then we get bundles of notices saying we have not operated the system correctly. So we check the dates of submission and cannot see what is wrong.  Do we ring the tax office to find out whether accurate or not?

As regards April 14.  We are faced with the new penalty system which scares me stiff.  The monthly discipline required to organise payrolls and submit FPS on time is quite challenging. Then you have eps, fps corrections-updating working hours etc etc.

Now we have to start thinking about auto enrolment.  I am sorry- HMRC should be paying us, not imposing an onerous penalty regime.  At the very least suspend penalty regime for a year until they get their notifications right.






Thanks (3)
By Kazmc
05th Mar 2014 15:34

Penalty suspension....

timkingcott wrote:


As regards April 14.  We are faced with the new penalty system which scares me stiff.  





They have given us 6 months leeway until October 14 so that is something. Here's hoping they extend that again until at least 15/16.

Thanks (0)
06th Mar 2014 05:25


This woman's credibility here is in tatters, her statements would be really amusing if it was not for the fiasco they are covering up.

"With the timetable for the introduction of penalties extended, HMRC has suspend the late payment and non-filing generic notification alerts until April 2014."

Why then do I have one dated 4 March 14 for someone who in my opinion is in full compliance with this stupid system?

Thanks (0)