Software tackles RTI data glitches

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To anyone with a basic understanding of technology, a simple acronym has governed the entire real time information saga: GIGO.

A shortened version of “garbage in, garbage out”, GIGO’s unique hold on HMRC and the payroll profession is celebrated in the annual reconciliation of PAYE data.

Until now the department’s attempts to improve matters during the past few years only made them worse.

Bad information management practices got us here, but with just over a fortnight to go before RTI kicks in for the mass of UK businesses, can technology help get us out of this mess?

The payroll software response

As well as providing RTI-compliant programs to let companies make their payment submissions, many of the developers have...

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About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight

AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.


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28th Mar 2013 12:59


I am not sure RTI will work.. Too much too soon.. You cannot expect small business's to send in weekly reports.. What about holidays, sickness, computer malfunctions..

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By kfh
28th Mar 2013 14:27

Reducing red tape

Another piece of legislation to reduce the workload on small business!


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By P2
28th Mar 2013 14:41

to add to remarks made by adogett..

What about snow, powercuts, people who don't want to be forced to file by internet, rural areas with no broadband coverage, good fridays, bank holidays, Saturdays, Sundays, etcetera etcetera?

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28th Mar 2013 15:36


Yup , I'm starting RTI with a few days off on leave ( school holidays not strop!). Cover arranged and "trained" but very nervous of making mistakes which will be hard  to unwind so returns unlikely to go in before I get back to work. Not a great start to be hoping system seizes up in the first few days despite HMRC confidence, nor to be delaying my own payroll processing, until I return.

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28th Mar 2013 16:44

Why Weekly?

Would it not be better if filing were monthly as per the last minute concession for small employers until 5 October 2013?  I cannot see how HMRC will receive weekly information and pass it to the benefits office for them to amend benefits before the next weekly payroll is run.  They will be permanently behind the curve.  Far better to have one monthly filing as we do on CIS and give employers a sporting chance of complying.

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31st Mar 2013 20:58

Not that worried

I am not that worried about the impact of RTI on my client base.  This is because I am confident the overload of data will bring HMRC to its knees.  The pilot:

1.  Does not, and cannot, test the volume impact on the poorest quality HMRC staff.

2.  Is a self-selecting sample for large and small companies alike.


I'll explain what I meant in point 2 with reference to a previous job where accurate payroll processing for nearly 1,000 staff came under me.  When the company was restructuiring this was a pain in the butt[***] with the sorts of data integrity issues mentioned in the main post.  Other years it was nice as pie with only the occasional hassle over bonus payments and the like.

Now suppose you were me and HMRC invited me to sign up to the pilot.

1.  Do I sign up in a restructure year?  NO WAY I have enough on my plate as it is!

2.  In another year?  Yes probably.  I get an early look at the system and so does my IT department, so when go live day comes around life carries on being nice as pie.

Up and down the country people like me will have self-selected a very favourble data set on to the pilot.

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03rd Apr 2013 12:43

RTI - BASDA comment from Alex Rowson, Chair of HR & Payroll SIG

Notwithstanding the fact that pilot employer’s have hand-picked themselves and are therefore more likely to have ‘clean’ data, HMRC have said that with nearly 6 million employees being submitted on a regular basis through RTI the level of mismatches and manual reconciliations required is at a 13 month low.

The main advantage of RTI is that rather than have a single end-of-year reconciliation process, mismatches will be picked up as and when an employee is added to an employer’s database and their details submitted when they are first paid, and there have already been many instances of incorrect NI numbers that have been used for years being corrected as a result of NINO verifications being performed on every employees’ FPS submission.

There will of course be a spike during April when the majority of employers first start to file RTI, but this will be no different to the volume of mismatches HMRC will see when the 2012-2013 end-of-year filing reconciliation is performed in May.

Hopefully employers will have cleaned their data before submitting their 2012-2013 end of year returns.

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