There is something big happening in the world of payroll and it’s going to affect all employers.

HMRC are introducing “Real Time Information”.

Currently, HMRC don’t really know how much is owed on your company payroll until the P35 is submitted at the end of the year. This makes it hard to chase for outstanding amounts owed without guessing. Basically, what this means for an employer is that for every pay date a submission needs to be made to HMRC detailing the amount due.

When will this happen? The pilot is being rolled out in April 2012 and this will affect all employers from October 2013.

How will it work? Originally, HMRC wanted this bolted onto a BACS transmission, but the majority of small firms pay their staff by normal bank transfer and not through the BACS system, in fact there might even be one or two employers out there who still pay their employees by cheque or cash!

Instead, this will be an additional part of the payroll software used by employers or their payroll agents.

What problems might you encounter with this new system?

  1. Please make sure your payroll figures are correct and complete before preparing your payroll, because once it’s been submitted to HMRC it will be very difficult to correct.
  2. Please make sure your payroll records i.e. names, addresses, dates of birth, national insurance numbers etc. are also correct as one incorrect piece of data in the submission will prevent the whole submission from being accepted.
  3. Regardless of which data is correct, yours or HMRC’s, if they don’t agree, it won’t be accepted. It remains to be seen how this one will be resolved – painfully, if the PAYE coding notices are anything to go by.
  4. HMRC have identified 110 pieces of information they want for each employee, the list includes, passport number and “current gender”. Hopefully they’ll narrow this list down but clearly this will create more work for HR departments.

What else? Well P45’s are to be scrapped and instead we will have a “leavers statement”. We don’t know what the difference is yet. Hopefully the system will be refined before implementation though!

The tip of the iceberg? HMRC have also expressed a desire to have “Centralised Deductions”. What does this mean? Employers tell HMRC what each employees gross pay is to be, the employers then give the gross payment to HMRC who then pass the net pay onto the employees. No, we don’t think they understand what they’d be letting themselves in for either. If “Real Time Information” is a success then they might consider developing this idea, but it is just an idea at the moment.

Ben Storey FCCA

Courtley West

Chartered Certified Accountants.