A "whopping" 500,000 employers have already registered to use the Inland Revenue's online services for 2004/05, the Revenue has announced.
Fourteen thousand agents and payroll bureaux have also registered for the service, which the Revenue claimed is simple, secure and convenient.
It also claimed that "our new system means that this year we will be accepting more returns than before and rejecting fewer".
Minutes of a recent meeting of a Working Together group gave an insight into some practical difficulties that may face employers and agents filing online.
The Revenue said in a note published on its website on Tuesday that following these steps would make things easier for employers:
- "Avoid peak online filing times (10:30am - 1:30pm and 2:30pm - 4:00pm Mon - Fri
- Do not file on 6 April unless your software forces you to do so. And it is best not to leave filing until 19 May
If you can file at the quieter times of day - or even at the weekend, if it is convenient for you - you are likely to have a much faster filing experience."
Help in completing returns
The Revenue provides help:
- on the Employers Home Page
- in the Employer’s Help Book E10 Finishing the tax year up to 5 April 2005, which is in the Employer’s Pack and on the Employer’s CD-ROM
- on the Online Services Helpdesk on 08456 055 999
- on the Employer’s Helpline on 08457 143 143
Errors in returns
The Revenue said: "Make sure that you put entries in the right boxes, and that everything adds up. When you send your Return online, our computer will automatically do some quality checks. If your Return does not meet our checks:
- "if you filed online, you will get an on-screen message telling you what is wrong. If you file via EDI we will send you an e-mail
- if you filed on paper, we will send your Return back to you telling you what is wrong.
"Either way, you must put your Return right quickly and let us have it back by 19 May."
The Revenue said: "If we accept your online Return, you will get an on-screen message telling you (or an e-mail for EDI users).
"Employers with fewer than 50 employees who file their 2004/05 Return online can get £250 tax-free from us.
"If you have fewer than 50 employees, and your Return is accepted, you can deduct (self-serve) your £250 tax-free payment from a future payment to IR. Later in the year, when we process the Return information to our various systems, we will credit the £250 to your payment record and send you a written confirmation that we have done this. Only at that stage, if you haven’t already self-served, can you ask us to send you the tax-free payment as a cheque repayment.
"If you send your 14s or P35 to us in parts, you will get a message telling you that your whole Return has been accepted or rejected as you submit each part. Do not misinterpret this message as a successful submission of the whole Return. The message means that the information you have just sent has been accepted. And you or your agent will still have to send the other parts of the Return by 19 May to avoid a late filing penalty.
"Although some of our quality checks are done immediately, we will be doing others later. So we may contact you later about any problems with your Return, ask you to put them right and resubmit it. But if this happens you will still be entitled to the tax-free payment and we will not send you a late filing penalty. You must keep a copy of all the information you sent to us in case we have any questions later.
"Our staff will not be able to check the progress of your Return on the computer system. But we will contact you if there are any problems with your Return."