Accountants have been voicing their displeasure after receiving letters from HMRC reminding them to file P35s for their clients even though this has already been done through the online system.
After a series of tribunal cases last year where HMRC was accused of delaying the issue of reminder notices in order to collect more penalties, the department agreed to send out P35 reminders earlier. This would alert employers who were unaware of their obligations or had inadvertently forgotten to file.
HMRC does not know what has been filed until later in the year and so it is cheaper to send the letter to everyone. It is clear that these letters are simple reminders and they do clearly state that no action is needed if the return has already been filed or one is not due.
A further letter will be sent out early next month explaining that a £100 penalty has been incurred by those who have not yet filed and in order to avoid a further fine, employers should send in their return immediately.
However, accountants are concerned that their clients will not get a good impression if they receive a reminder when a return has already been filed.
It does seem strange that HMRC’s systems are unable to identify employers who have not filed these returns. Surely, when you file online as the majority of employers now have to do, the system could automatically place a green flag or something similar next to the account. That way, HMRC only needs to set up a filter and send letters to employers who are not flagged. It sounds simple to me!