HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

HMRC Overloaded?

HMRC no longer provide PAYE payment schedules, this practice stopped some years ago.

As per Accountingweb, HMRC said:
"Routine provision of PAYE payment schedules stopped several years ago, bringing PAYE into line with other taxes, because it was not sustainable to continue due to an increasing number of requests.

This change in approach was introduced in April 2011 and announced through Employer Bulletin Issue 38 (page 21) and subsequently incorporated into our guidance (DMBM520287), which can be accessed on the HMRC website at which is available to customers at DMBM520287, which can be accessed at: debt and return pursuit: PAYE: payment schedule requests: background." 
Guidance provided by HMRC included:
  • Customers are required to maintain their own records from which relevant information can be extracted
  • Additionally, the Business Tax Dashboard was introduced for the use of customers and presented another means for them to find what payments had been received and how these were allocated
  • Using these two sources resolves the majority of issues, but where exceptionally this doesn’t and a customer needs help with locating a limited number of payments, then the Revenue will provide assistance.
Now this may be all very well and dandy, if HMRC do honour the third bullet point and help when things get in a muddle. Except that, according to Nichola Ross Martin, HMRC does not help out under such circumstances.

Ross Martin made an error when paying HMRC through online banking. She accidentally left out part of a PAYE reference where amounts were allocated to the previous year and to ‘suspense’.

HMRC’s debt management and banking team then contacted her about alleged underpayments, but refused to provide a list of payments received. She was unable to see which payments were lost and work out why that had happened.

On attempting to get in touch with both the debt management and banking team, and the PAYE team, she was passed back and forth.

The debt and banking team "would not admit" that she had overpaid 2013/14 because they tried to allocate her month one payment back to 2012/13. They then asked for the money for 2013/14.
"Why will HMRC not provide a schedule of the payments that they receive?
Methinks that the number of queries being received by HMRC along these lines have overwhelmed the system; ie it cannot cope.

Have any loyal readers had similar experiences?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Devils Advocate on this one.

    HMRC have baseline legislation covering the retention of PAYE for current and previous 3 tax years as per link provided to DMBM520287. That is reasonable and one would expect "customer" payroll systems to have resilience. However, mistakes do occur.

    Then there is the obvious reason of resourcing within HMRC, this may be why they have put themselves in the position of stating they cannot accommodate requests for PAYE payment schedules.

    Herein lies an uncomfortable dichotomy then for HMRC, they hold the data that the "customer" has provided, the "customer" is probably requesting the data to assist with a refund claim for overpaid tax, HMRC "customer" service and mission statement all support this desire to pay "the right amount of tax at the right time"...
    and yet by its refusal to assist HMRC is not assisting the "customer".

    Making HMRC the arbitrator in these circumstances may not be the best solution then.

    Notwithstanding the cynical or conspiracy believers who may just feel that the artificial Directorship Silo's that exist within HMRC complete with their own agenda or mission statements do not have a vested interest in ensuring that the right tax i.e. repayment, is paid. Communication and data pathways within the organisation is not renowned for interaction across business areas.
    Or it maybe something to do with overall tax gap in that by not repaying £XBn of PAYE overpayment, then perversely the books are better balanced?

    Jury still out on this one, in mitigation, HMRC "customers" are human and capable of making mistakes with or without complex tax rules and forms.

    Would be interested to know how HMRC refers to its "customers" in legislation or court though as I dont recall seeing the word customer within the context of taxpayer within existing legislation.

    1. In legislation it's normally "person" or "company". I'm not familiar with legislation on benefits (e.g. tax credits) so that might be something else ("claimant", maybe?) but I suspect it will also be "person".

      "Customer" is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of people that interact with HMRC, including taxpayers, agents, employers acting in the capacity of tax collectors (PAYE), businesses that pay no tax but maybe claim back input VAT, tax credits claimants, etc.

      I can understand people's frustration with the use of "customer" (though I'm not convinced by the argument that's often made about choice), but it strikes me that none of those who complains about it ever seems to suggest an alternative. Should, for example, HMRC:
      - refer to everyone it deals with as a "taxpayer", even though this isn't correct in many cases;
      - use a long list like the one above each time it wants to refer to everyone it deals with;
      - use a different umbrella term, if so, what?

      Answers on a postcard to Lin Homer...

      Stew G

    2. Would not wish to waste the cost of a stamp.

      Overall, I agree with you, as you suggest, WRT to HMRC's use of "customer".

      There are only 2 reasons why people use HMRC and that is to contribute (give, pay etc.) or receive (claimants, repayment recipients etc) in some way. There is no choice, whether you be a person or some other form of legal entity.

      Most people see the use of "customer" as yet another example of how HMRC has lost the plot, even Lawbreakers were referred to as "customers", although this particular imposition on staff may well have been quietly dropped?

      Prior to the use of the "word", it should be recalled that the widespread use of other words such as taxpayer, trader, claimant etc. seemed to suffice and my suggestion would be to return to those common sense descriptors and drop the use of retail related words that do nothing to improve the "end-users" "experience". "Wishful thinking" combined with over zealous use of parentheses, I admit, but then I suppose that even users of overseas tax havens or avoidance schemes are just as much "customers" as the honest taxpayers or the dishonest evaders?