Please do not die – it causes no end of problems with HMRC systems!

We have filed a pension scheme tax return for several years through an online gateway. We thought it was our own Gateway and all the screens showed the firm name at the top. However, one of the scheme administrators that dealt with all the administration matters died a few months ago. A tax return now needs to be filed – and the problems started!

It was not possible see the option to file the tax return using the credentials we held – and this turned out to be because the login, although through a separate Gateway number was actually somehow linked to the personal administrator ID of the deceased administrator. Whilst the access still worked, it was reduced to read only access, as also had the deceased administrator’s access.  Everything could be seen, including the notice to file the 2018 tax return, but there was no facility to actually complete or file the return.

After a number of phone calls to HMRC we were able to clarify why the filing option had disappeared, although this made more difficult as during this process we of course discovered we were not formally noted as agents on the HMRC system despite having filed over 5 years of pension scheme returns via the now impaired Gateway access.  Fortunately, we do have a practitioner login for pension scheme returns, but being on yet another Gateway ID we were not enabled as a practitioner agent for this particular pension scheme.

There is another administrator – who was still able to find his administrator reference details that had been issued some 10 years ago – although he had never needed to login since this was issued. He already has a Gateway access, but this is to self-assessment and it is not possible to add the pension scheme access to this account, so a new Gateway was required…..this was applied for before Christmas and as usual , the activation code would be issued through the post…but the new administrator had just moved house! Fortunately, just before the New Year this code was received, so we thought the biggest likely practical hurdle was overcome.

Given that this is the first time that the client has had to log into this part of the HMRC system, he fortunately decided that he may need a little handholding. The activation of the Gateway account went smoothly and account details appeared showing Pension Schemes Online for Administrators and View account present, as it should be according to the HMRC help notes. Clicking on this link brought the client onto the expected HMRC services page showing a link to Pension Scheme for Administrators product.  However, clicking on this link just produced an ‘Access denied’ message and he could get no further.

This was the start of a vicious circle….The only way to appoint us as agent, and so enable a link from our newer practitioner Gateway account, is to for an existing administrator to do so electronically from within the online system. A paper 64-8 does not appear to be an option.

After several lengthy conversations with HMRC over two days (with the new administrator getting increasingly frustrated and losing the will to live!) it transpired that systems were being migrated to a new system and “new” administrators only were being set up at present. “Old” administrators (like our client) will be added shortly apparently – possibly within the next month or so hence receiving the ‘Access denied’ message….so probably after the due filing date for the tax return!!

One department of HMRC was able to see the audit trail and see the administrator had died, but another department (presumably those dealing with the new setup) were apparently unable to see these notes on an allocated case reference, so it meant repeating oneself time and time again.

This has taken several hours to try to sort and over a month from when we first realised that the client and we had a problem, at a very bad time of year for this sort of thing!

It does beg the question about how such systems are designed! This comes under scrutiny again with MTD for VAT…but that is for another day!

Any similar experiences?

  • 1/ Owing to what looks like an error in getting feedback by the system, a (now departed) user at a client seems to have registered three share schemes with the HMRC online system when we think there should only be one.  There is no way of saying "sorry, mistake" it seems, you have to keep the non-existent schemes open for the rest of the year, then close them.  There is also no way for us, apparently, to tell which are the spurious schemes.  The HMRC on-help desk couldn't either, but they did give us an email address we could write to and get the information.  The company did and got a reply back saying that it was not HMRC policy to give out the company's information to the company and it was up to the company to keep a (presumably manual) record of what it had entered on-line. Very MTD.

    2/  And another example of disjointed systems, but one where HMRC tried to help.  I was asked by a company I used to do work for whether I could help them with the visa application.  The Home Office wanted proof that the company actually existed and had a trading history in the UK.  Apparently the fact that Companies House had a record of them and they filed both the accounts and tax returns on time wasn't good enough.  They wanted a copy of a statutory letter sent by HMRC and only a CT603 or a CT620 was good enough.  Now the company didn't bother to keep the CT603 (that's the demand to make a tax return) - why would it keep them once the return had been made? - and has never received CT620.  

    I phoned HMRC on their behalf and a helpful lady said that that they could not reissue the forms as they are statutory demands (I think I can understand that, although I can't see why they couldn't issue one with "Duplicate" or "Copy" stamped on it)", but that they might be able to send a letter confirming a CT603 had been issued.  I thought that would be good enough, but apparently the Home Office wouldn't accept a letter from HMRC as sufficient evidence!

    Putting even that on one side - shouldn't the Home Office be able to access sufficient elements of the government's own databases to confirm the trading existing of a company without even asking the company to provide the information? I bet GCHQ can.