Where is this holy grail of accurate RTI data?

HMRC’s webinar on Agent Services on 19 May 2016 was illuminating both in what was said and what was glossed over.

We learned that third party software will be required to access the clients’ digital accounts including the clients’ business tax dashboard. That software will use an API to access HMRC’s data. The question is: What pool of data will the API tap into?

Currently tax agents are aware of many issues surrounding the accuracy of taxpayer payroll data held by HMRC.

So where is this holy grail of accurate data within HMRC? It is a mystery as to why no one has been able to find or view this ‘clean data’ since the start of the RTI pilot in 2012, not even HMRC’s own staff.

If APIs are the key to providing access for tax agents, then presumably they can also unlock clean data for clients viewing their own business tax dashboard.

Yet NPS has been destabilised by inaccurate data coming in via the core RTI database, and the ETMP is still relatively new. Those who can view the ETMP system constantly point to its unpredictability in both charging and allocation of payments of PAYE.

It was encouraging that the NAO report on HMRC’s quality of service to personal taxpayers costed the taxpayers’ wasted time. The resulting calculations demonstrated that there has been no overall savings resulting from HMRC’s cuts in personnel. Taxpayers paid an additional £4 for every £1 saved by HMRC between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

I hope that this costing model will also be used by the NAO in the future to evaluate how much un-billable time the tax agent community has lost over the same period dealing with RTI.