HMRC takes hard line with employers without computersThursday, May 12th, 2011
No online filing exceptions for employers who do not use computers or who cannot afford to buy one or use a service provider.
Almost all employers are required by law to file year-end P14 and P35 Returns and in-year P45 and P46-series forms online. Exceptions are limited to employers operating the simplified deductions scheme for domestic employees, employers with religious objections to electronic communication methods, and employers who employ carers to work at their home.
A recent visitor to the Payroll-Help News pages – we will call her Betty – posted the following comment:
“I am a very small company with 1 employee. I have been told that I have to submit my end of year PAYE P11, P14 and P35 on line and when I said I couldn’t do this because I wasn’t computer friendly and didn’t even own one and couldn’t afford to buy, I was told that the only exemption was on religious grounds and that not having a computer or being able to use it was not grounds for an exemption. Could you please help me as to what I can do as this is causing untold stress.”
We asked HMRC to comment on the situation of employers like Betty who have one employee, are not computer literate, have no desire or cannot afford to buy a computer, and who are required by law to file their PAYE P14 and P35 online. They face a penalty if they file using paper returns and costs if they engage the services of an agent.
We received the following formal comment:
“Virtually all employers are required to file their Employer Annual Return (forms P35 and P14s) online and nearly all do so. A very small number of employers aren’t covered by this requirement (specifically those who operate a simplified deduction scheme for personal employees or are care and support employers or individuals who are a practicing member of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with electronic communications).
These employers may file this information using paper forms if they choose to do so. However, many of these exempt employers still choose to file online because of the greater speed and convenience it offers and because it helps to reduce errors that can arise when completing paper forms.
There are no exemptions or exclusions for those customers who do not have or use, a computer or the Internet, as HMRC offers a variety of on line filing methods to choose from.
HMRC also offers specialist services and facilities for customers with disabilities or particular needs. (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/contactus/particular-needs.htm)”
It will be interesting to see whether HMRC is prepared to issue penalty notices to employers like Betty who are simply unable to cope with online filing or who cannot afford to find someone to do it for them.