HMRC Basic Payroll Tools 2015/16 – A warning

Published on 17 March 2015

HMRC have recently advised that the 2015/16 version of their free payroll software ‘Basic Payroll Tools’ will need to be downloaded again by most users rather than updated from within the existing program. With the new tax year nearly upon us and with around 300,000 users of the software, LITRG is concerned that this message may not reach all small employers in time, in which case they may not be ready for 2015/16.

For employers with less than ten employees, HMRC have for some years offered a free payroll program, Basic Payroll Tools (BPT). Until now, updates have usually been available from within the existing program itself, using the ‘check for updates' facility or selecting the option to have automatic updates, rather than by having to download a new version from scratch.

However, in the February 2015 HMRC Employer Bulletin, a notice appeared advising that the 2015/16 tax year update will NOT be done by updating the existing program. Unless you are using version 14.2.14330.88 or later (the version number displays in the bottom-left corner in the software), you will need to download and install a new version of the software from the GOV.UK website.

This may cause some confusion for long term users of the program, so we wanted to try and raise awareness for those employers who may have missed the announcement in the Employer Bulletin or do not have an email address registered with HMRC in order to receive an alert via the Generic Notifications Service. In particular, we are concerned that smaller or more vulnerable employers, such as care and support employers engaging their own personal assistants, may have had this important message pass them by.

Penalties

If your software is not updated for the 2015/16 tax year in the proper manner, the Full Payment Submission (FPS) will fail in the first payroll run after 6 April. With penalties for late filing of FPS’s introduced for all employers in 2015/16, we are concerned that limited communications from HMRC on this essential upgrade to BPT may result in some employers facing an otherwise preventable late filing penalty.

It is fair to say that there are a number of ‘relaxations’ that may help you if you find yourself submitting your FPS late – the first late submission of the year is ignored, for example, and there is a new three-day period of grace as explained in our News Article here. If these relaxations are not helpful to you then we would suggest making a claim for ‘reasonable excuse’ for the late FPS submission. You can find out more about making a claim for ‘reasonable excuse ’ on our dedicated website called Disability Tax Guide which guides anyone taking on a personal assistant through the PAYE and RTI maze.

Next steps

The updated software download can be obtained from GOV.UK.

Do not uninstall the version you have been using or you will lose payroll data. In fact, we strongly recommend you make a back-up of your existing data before you upgrade. Your employer and employee details should transfer automatically across from the version of the software you have been using.

If the computer on which your tools will be installed has internet but not broadband access, you will need to telephone HMRC's Employer Orderline and ask them to send you a copy of 'Basic PAYE Tools for 2015-16' on a CD ROM – this may take up to seven working days to reach you.

If you encounter a technical problem with installing BPT or using it once it is up and running, please contact the Online Services on 0300 200 3600. For customers who are deaf or hearing or speech impaired: 0300 200 3603 (Textphone). If you want to email a technical query, please follow the Online Services Helpdesk link.

Note, if you are installing on a Mac, you will need to change your security settings to allow software to be allowed ’from anywhere’ before you can install the download.

(17-03-2015)

Contact: Meredith McCammond (please use form at /contact-us) or follow us on Twitter: @LITRGNews