Problems with HMRC systems? A pilot forum may have the answers

Philip McNeil By Philip McNeill, ICAS Head of Taxation (Tax Practice and Small Business Taxes)

27 April 2017

HMRC has piloted an online forum where agents can post issues they are having with the tax authority’s systems. The pilot is likely to be extended in the summer.

Below are five problems raised by tax practitioners. Are these also causing you concern, or do you have other issues to raise? Let us know so we can arrange for you to join the discussion.

1. No go by phone

A tax enquiry is underway.  The letter asks you to phone HMRC.  After repeated attempts and 20-minute waits, you give up.

Then you get a chaser letter from HMRC ‘as you have not contacted us’.  Sound familiar?

2. But it isn’t due

Clients are being chased for class 4 National Insurance which isn’t due.  Medical practitioners and others can pay class 1, class 2 and class 4 National Insurance.  There is an upper limit, but HMRC doesn’t always get it right.  There’s a fix, but it depends on the problem.  Access the forum to show you the proposed solutions.

3. Not allowed to pay

Your client wants to pay their class 2 National Insurance, but HMRC won’t let them, or refund payments made.

From 2015-16, class 2 is collected via self-assessment, but there are glitches in the system.  It could be the result of a cancelled direct debit instruction, leading to HMRC deleting the entire record. But there are other causes too.  The forum shows the latest state of play.

4. Online notices of coding not visible to agents

Agents should be able to see client’s PAYE codes online, but this is not happening.  With the Dividend Allowance set to change again, remuneration strategies may change.

HMRC figures for adjustments for dividend income may be far from realistic, but can you see the coding adjustment before your client?  We’ve been promised a solution, but is it working? Find out on the forum.

5. Duplicate UTRs

HMRC’s data cleansing means that some clients are being issued with duplicate UTRs.  From an agent point of view this may not be welcome.

Continuity of UTR is important for averaging election and loss relief claims etc.  Have you been affected?  

6. Progress through collaboration

Effective resolution of issues with HMRC can only be achieved with your input.  Recent gains have been a commitment from HMRC to make iForms more agent friendly by providing a checklist of data needed and enabling the forms to be saved in draft.

Other issues up for debate on the forum are agent access to PAYE data.  A recent change in HMRC policy means that agents will no longer be able to obtain client PAYE details via the Agent Dedicated Line.

Resolution of practical issues with HMRC is a three-way process:

  • Practitioners can raise the issues and check that any solutions work
  • ICAS and the other professional bodies can prioritise the issues and highlight proposed solutions, and
  • HMRC via their online forum, can take the examples back to the appropriate in-house team for comment and response.


  • Tax

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