HMRC new approach to PAYE compliance

24 November 2014


Earlier this year, HMRC started rolling out a programme of meetings with companies dealt with by its Large Business Service (LBS). It is seeking to understand each company's approach to employee reward and remuneration better and assess any areas of potential compliance risk.

Many thanks for this report to BDO, who say that this programme

“is partly in response to widespread criticism of HMRC's failure to audit PAYE compliance in the largest companies, and may be linked to its recent statement that two-thirds of the 800 biggest businesses operating in the UK are under some form of tax enquiry by HMRC. It is also a good way for HMRC to build an up to date picture of modern remuneration strategies.

We understand that LBS recruited external professionals to support the initiative and that this is not just a paper exercise: where irregularities emerge from these meetings, they will be the subject of detailed enquiries and penalties will be sought on adjustments where the client is unable to prove that reasonable care has been taken.

HMRC outlines the issues it wants to discuss so that each company approached can be fully prepared before the meeting takes place. Many companies are choosing to produce an HR led presentation to outline the company's operations and its reward and remuneration strategy. The breadth of scope of these meetings can be extensive - covering everything from the HR team and structure and Senior Accounting Officer review work through to how you deal with benefits and what PSAs you have in place.

LBS's initiatives have generated £31bn in additional revenue for HMRC over the last four years, so, if this one is deemed to be a success, we anticipate it will be rolled out to other employers in some form in the next few years.

It is increasingly unlikely that the old approach of testing employer compliance very rarely (many employers have not been audited for more than ten years) will survive. So, all employers should consider a review of their position and put right any problems voluntarily, before HMRC comes knocking on their door.”