RTI – are you swimming or sinking?

How is PAYE real time information (RTI) going for you? Is it a huge cost burden, dogged by unanswered questions and uncertainty because HMRC seems forever to be issuing updates to its guidance, impossible deadlines, software that doesn’t do what it should, RTI submissions up the creek and HMRC’s employer helplines not understanding your problems? Or is it all going swimmingly well with a clear understanding of what is required, all necessary data to hand, payroll software and submissions working like a (good) dream with no untoward hassles or material extra costs? 

What is the biggest difficulty (if any) that you are encountering and what is your recommended solution, bearing in mind the requirements of universal credit? Are the exceptions that allow payments to be reported after payday, eg, within seven days of payday, sufficient? Will the temporary relaxation for employers of fewer than 50 employees, which allows payments to be reported by when the payroll is normally run or the end of the tax month, last long enough for you to adjust to RTI requirements? If not, why not?

Please post your comments below, good or bad and tell us the worst pinch points that you are encountering. Are there aspects that are wasting a disproportionate amount of time?. It would help if you could say whether you are an employer or a payroll agent.

Useful link
ICAEW’s RTI webpage which brings together information on where to go to for help at HMRC and where you can find links to ICAEW guidance such as RTI Helpsheets, the updated payroll engagement letter, seminars and webinars.

STOP PRESS (12/07/2013)
Have you received any demands from HMRC for tax/NIC which is not due (normally by way of a ‘specified charge’) even where all appropriate alignments, FPS and EPS have been submitted?

Late addition (January 2014)
We are working with HMRC to help them work out why their processes and IT do not always do what is expected and why their employer PAYE accounts contain curious figures. As well as posting items below, please send peter.bickley@icaew.com at ICAEW Tax Faculty actual examples with employer name and reference number that we can send to HMRC.

  • It's never going to work for a lot of small businesses except as a revenue generating exercise for the government.
    At least one of the major software providers only allows one FPS per payment period so don't see how, with employees normally paid monthly, I can report correctly under RTI if one employee has had an advance or is paid early for some reason.  (That's assuming I get the info in the first place!)
    I'm turning clients away with weekly payroll as I do like to take a holiday from time to time.
    Presumably returns will be missed because key staff/accountant/bookkeeper takes a holiday - and for small businesses it's just not practical to have others trained to file such a critical return.
    Had a couple of clients who turned out to be in RTI pilot scheme in 2012-13 - nice of HMRC to let us know that; more wasted time sorting that out and ringing HMRC to get them to allow P35/P14 to be filed as normal.
    The RTI has not been too difficult to do and a monthly reporting requirement might make the system a better way of doing things than before, but weekly is absolutely crazy!
  • Having done no payroll since 1982 I took on a client's request to do their payroll with trepidation. They started employing people unexpectedly (taking over running their pub at short notice from an unsuitable tenant). 6pm on Friday 15 March was a bad time to start as they went into the 2012/13 RTI pilot.

    The starting experience was horrendous. Given the short time frame to 5 April I telephoned HMRC on 18 March and got confirmation that a PAYE reference would be issued within a month but was told to apply online too and they would merge the two. It was a particular problem when the client itself (a partnership) only started on 15 March so had no record. Inevitably I got 2 PAYE references and had to close one down. Correspondence including activation keys was a nightmare as post went to the pub and not the correspondence address. I got agreement for deferral and got the 2012/13 FPS done by 16 April, having won deferment till 19 April earlier.

    RTI itself with Sage 50 is a doddle. I have weekly payroll but as I am a smallholder as well as a part time accountant I don't have holidays so that's no problem. All the problems come from HMRC being desperately slow regarding new businesses and authorisations, and ignoring the correspondence address. I had to submit the first few weeks using the client's own Government gateway access.
  • I'm a one man band - so if I'm not at my desk through holidays or illness the RTI's are not done.

    My first problem was their software, which I use, states that recoverable amounts (SSP etc) should be submitted even if there is none, but filing is rejected, and the helpline weren't aware of this issue, advising that, of course you only file this type when there is something to send.

    I'm working at a clients all day tomorrow, - so my answer is to fiddle the payday for my weekly paid employer, and as it is the last day of the month too, all of the monthly paysdays will be incorrect too.

    What sort of a system is this that does not recognise this type of  problem?

  • Nichola's solution above is so obviously the sensible approach.  Maybe we can get 100,000 signatures on an e-petition and get it debated in Parliament?  I have a funny feeling HMRC will see sense in the end but I wish they would bite the bullet now rather than cause so much frustration and anger in the mean time.
  • I wholeheartedly agree with Nichola's suggestion to file FPS by 19th of the following tax month. 

    I mentioned this in February to Maggie Anderson, HMRC RTI Engagement & Communications Team, who seemed to give it short shrift. 

    As an agent dealing with a number of small clients who can change payment dates, advances, overtime and anything else you care to think of, it is nigh on impossible to educate clients to mend their ways for accurate on or before payment reporting.

    Software constraints (Moneysoft) is another cause for concern in not being flexible enough to cope with all scenarios clients throw up and HMRC requirements. 

    If HMRC are not more flexible and realistic in their approach, I may stop dealing with client payrolls. 

    The additional time in chasing clients for approval of payroll, making RTI submissions when the client gets round to it after subsequent reminders and letting the client know of submission is all adding cost.