Self assessment: pre-population of employment data

The self assessment pre-population APIs (Application Program Interfaces) moved into public beta in March 2018. This service pre-populates taxpayers’ self assessments with information on individual employments, income, tax deductions, benefits, national insurance and marriage allowance. 

As reported in its Digital, HMRC has already compiled a list of improvements it would like to make in the next version (subject to funding). Most providers of self assessment filing software are likely to incorporate these APIs – members should contact their software provider if further information is needed. 

The private beta version of this service was well used during the self assessment peak by those who had access, though there were some capacity issues. 

Issues reported by members have been: 

  • The 2-step verification process requires the agent to provide personal details to HMRC (even though they are acting in an agent capacity). ICAEW has expressed concern about this to HMRC and has been advised that the solution is a temporary one (the longer term solution should be access through the agent services account).
  • The employment data is not available until HMRC has reconciled the relevant employer records (ie, it doesn’t come straight from RTI data). This is an annual process that usually starts in June and is mostly complete by September.
  • Only one pension figure is pulled across and this means that agents cannot report the required analysis in the white space and cannot check the figures to the taxpayer’s records. 

Please comment below on your experiences of using this functionality.

  • What does it mean "reconciled the relevant employer records" ? It is very unhelpful and frustrating that the 2017-18 data is not available yet for most of my clients. As the clients that I can access are all Self Assessment cases, they don't need any PAYE calculations, so why do we have to wait?