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Monday, 14 September 2009
HMRC's Dump Account
My thanks to a loyal reader who has drawn my attention to a rather large backlog of unmatched P14 Forms (dealing with PAYE etc). held in HMRC's the Residual File (more commonly known as a "dump account").
The "dump account" contains unmatched details of salary, tax and NI Contributions which are not attributed to any individual.
The tax and NI Contributions have been deducted by employers and paid into the Treasury. However, the fact that these "unmatched" income details exist means that HMRC have not been able to determine the true tax liability for these individuals.
This means that some taxpayers may be liable to pay more tax, and others may be due a tax refund.
Surely only a few taxpayers are in this position though?
My correspondent also copied me the results of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request relating to the matter. Seemingly, as at 5th April 2007, the number of forms P14 within the Residual File, was as follows:
- where the Pay figure was between £20K-£29,999K 365,091
- where the Pay figure was between £30K-£39,999K 148,570
- where the Pay figure was £40K or more 365,091
A grand total of 878,752 unmatched P14's.
However, the problem doesn't just stop there with the unmatched P14's. I draw your attention to The National Audit Office Report for 2007/2008 (Summary - Item 12).
"At the end of the tax year, the Department's computer system may identify discrepancies in taxpayer records or be unable to match a return to a record and so it will establish an 'open case' for manual checking.
Delays in clearing 'open cases' can mean that taxpayers are not notified on a timely basis of additional tax payable or refunds due.
At the end of March 2008 the Department had 16.2 million open cases, which exceeded its target of 12.5 million, because computer system developments did not deliver the reduction in cases expected, staff were released to other work and there was lower than anticipated overtime.
The Department plans to reach a steady state position by 2010 where open cases for each tax year are cleared within a year and there are no backlogs for 2006-07 and earlier years. The number of cases that will require manual intervention following the implementation of the computer changes cannot be predicted with absolute certainty, so the Department needs to consider the processing resources necessary to clear the backlog of 'open cases', should this exceed its current estimate."
The figure of 16.2 million represents approximately 50% of all PAYE records dealt with by HMRC, in other words 50% of the PAYE population have not had their PAYE liability reviewed.
This figure of unreviewed PAYE Tax liability has been growing substantially over the past few years. Computer Weekly provides a rather alarming set of statistics:
HMRC open cases
-1998: 2.5 million
-1999: 4.8 million
-2001: 8.5 million (1,250 extra staff were hired to reduce the backlog)
-2007: 11.5 million
-2008: 16 million
-2009: 20 million
The backlog means that HMRC, if they wish to resolve the matter, will have to divert money and resources into resolving the discrepancies.
One might question as to what the £8.5BN being paid to IT consultants is really being used for?
Tax does have to be taxing.
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