Monday Mornings! It’s the jolt out of the weekend, and back to the real world of the 9-5. And no matter what you do on a Monday morning, there are still other places you would undoubtedly want to be. And I am no exception.
So, I start my Monday morning with a weekly job that allows me the luxury of drinking good coffee whilst getting into my day.
The payroll industry produces a huge amount of information, from the HMRC Agent Updates and Employer Bulletins that are produced each quarter (or in some cases more often), to software provider and ‘industry leader’ blogs. However, the one I leave until last, and one of my favourites, is a blog from a respected accounting and payroll leading body. They cover a wide range of topics, and in comparison to the very dry writing style of HMRC, their blogs contain no only valuable knowledge, but an amount of tongue-in-cheek dark humour from writers that probably feel jaded by years of the machinations of HMRC and their ability to confuse and confound us in new and interesting ways.
One of their recent blogs, which was both entertaining and distressing in equal measure gives an example of a letter received by an Accountant from HMRC. This contained the most startling spelling errors and an amount of misguidance that was only resolved after the intervention of the Director General of HMRC Customer Services.
There are further examples of date errors in tax statements, which an accountant would muddle through and resolve, but a client could get in a real knot about, with stress and frantic phone calls to HMRC being the result.
But the most worrying examples are incidences of inaccuracies in the guidance and instruction that accountants have been subject to when calling HMRC. Tales of heated discussions around eligibility to claim allowances, and demanding answers to questions that just do not apply to the client abound.
For me, the most interesting examples are those that apply to payroll specifically. Tales of the mass issuing of incorrect tax codes and refusal to discuss refunds of overpayment of PAYE unless hoops are jumped through are ten-a-penny.
There are rumours that long serving HMRC officers are not being retained and younger, less experienced staff are left to man the front lines, leaving industry professionals to sort through the misinformation. It’s not uncommon to decide that sometimes the only solution is to end the call with HMRC and call back in the hope of getting a more informed HMRC officer. It’s like playing the lottery!
The concern within the accounting and payroll industry is that regardless of the amount of work we do to ensure our knowledge is up to date, our clients receiving letters and misinformation from HMRC will always set the seed of doubt in a client’s mind. The accountants and payroll professionals I know focus on ensuring their customers are taken care of and the service they receive is right first time.
But looking at it from a brighter angle, accountants and payroll professionals are sharing their experiences and supporting each other. We are learning from that shared experience and using the knowledge to ensure that we are putting our clients’ interests first and being fierce and determined in the face of HMRC where we need to.
My personal concern is that clients and ‘the man in the street’ are misinformed too. I worry that people wanting to do the right thing and account for their businesses and employees legally don’t stand a chance of getting it right. I’ve experienced this previously for a client and it saddens and angers me that the bar is set at different heights for clients in comparison to HMRC.
But that’s another reason why I do what I do. Part of the reason that PayrollAbility was created is for small businesses to have somewhere to come to that specialises in helping them transition into becoming employers without it feeling torturous. Growing your business to a point where you need a team should be a time of celebration, not a point at which you being to pull out your hair and wonder why you ever thought employees were a good idea.
So if you’re heading into the uncharted waters of becoming an employer and want help and support, or just a simple discussion about what to do first and what you should know about becoming an employer, call the office today on 01384 92 90 20. We’d be happy to be the buffer between HMRC your business.