HMRC Expands Agent Team to Address Outstanding Postal Queries
The UK’s tax authority, HMRC, has expanded the remit of its Agent Account Manager (AAM) team to include postal queries that have been outstanding for 12 months or more. This is a response to concerns from accountants about the length of time it takes HMRC to respond to queries.
The AAM team is responsible for resolving queries from agents on behalf of their clients. The team is made up of experienced HMRC staff who have a deep understanding of the tax system.
To raise a query with the AAM team, agents must use the Agent Issue Resolution Service (AIRS) form. The form must be completed in full and must include the narrative “agents 12 month+ post trial”.
Once a query has been raised with the AAM team, the team will investigate the matter and will aim to resolve it within 10 working days.
This expansion of the AAM team is a positive development for accountants and their clients. It will help to ensure that queries are resolved more quickly, which will reduce the amount of time and money that is wasted.
Important Employment Law Changes
The UK Government has published its response to a consultation on changes to statutory paternity leave and pay. The changes will allow fathers to take paternity leave in two separate blocks of one week, rather than one or two blocks as is currently the case.
The blocks of leave can be taken in the first 52 weeks of the birth or placement of a child. Employees will also be required to give 15 weeks’ notice of their entitlement to paternity leave.
The changes will come into force in April 2025.
These changes are a welcome development for fathers, as they will give them more flexibility in how they take paternity leave. They will also help to ensure that fathers are more involved in the early stages of their child’s life.
Obtaining the National Insurance Number
The National Insurance Number (NINO) is a vital piece of information for both employees and employers. It is used to match an employee in payroll software to an individual on HMRC’s system. Where there is a match, there is one employment record created. Where there is not a match, there is the possibility that HMRC will not create a single employment record, thereby resulting in a duplicate.
Employees should declare their NINO to their employer as soon as possible. This can be done by providing the NINO on the Starter Checklist or by completing a separate declaration form.
Employers are required to check the validity of an employee’s NINO before they start work. This can be done by using the HMRC online service.
Introducing More HMRC Call Waiting Times
HMRC has introduced expected wait times on its helplines. This is based on the average of calls from the previous day. HMRC says that this has directed callers to other help routes which may help them resolve their query elsewhere.
The helplines that now have expected wait times are:
- Child Benefit
- Construction Industry Scheme
- National Insurance
- Online services
- Tax credits
This is a positive development, as it will give callers an idea of how long they are likely to have to wait before their call is answered. It will also help to reduce the number of abandoned calls.
August Questions and Answers
Here are answers to some common questions about employment law that accountants may be asked in August:
- Q: We have a new employee who did not present a P45 and did not complete the Starter Checklist. Which FPS starter declaration and tax code should we use?
A: The starter declaration must be C and the tax code to use is 0T on a week 1 / month 1 basis. Starter declaration C sets the employee up on HMRC’s systems with a secondary record. Tax code 0T W1 / M1 means that the employee is not entitled to any personal allowances.
- Q: A client did not tell us that they were eligible for the Employment Allowance in tax year 2023/24 (despite us asking for confirmation!). After the July payrun, they did tell us. Can we indicate to HMRC that they are eligible even though the tax year has ended?
A: Yes, you can indicate to HMRC that your client is eligible for the Employment Allowance. You can do this by completing the Employment Allowance Claim form.