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Real-time reporting: speed before quality?

We live in a world that rarely switches off. A world of 24-hour rolling news coverage and 500,000,000 tweets per day. That's 500 million. Every. Single. Day.

Ryanair became the latest business to join in with the 24-hour reporting trend when it launched a 'real-time' information service earlier this month. The budget airline created the @RyanairFlights Twitter account, which tweets you a live service update for your flight upon request.

We've become accustomed to finding out what's happening, as it happens. But by demanding our news and information in real time, is there a risk that the quality of the information we receive falls? Are we in danger of trading accurate information produced after the event for real-time news that's less reliable? There have been a number of examples of misinformation spreading rapidly on Twitter.

PAYE: trustworthy real-time data?

It seems that HMRC's online system for reporting PAYE information in real time is also struggling with a data accuracy problem.

Launched between April and October 2013, real time information (RTI) reporting of payments to employees means you have to submit details of each payment to HMRC on or before the day they are made.

But this first year has been blighted by stories of employers struggling to get to grips with the new system and with software failures at the HMRC end. HMRC has twice delayed the introduction of non-compliance penalties for small employers in recognition of this.

In the latest RTI related blunder, HMRC admits that up to 100,000 people have received incorrect tax bills for 2013/14 after errors were found in the process. HMRC's excuse? User error:

"The majority of the errors have happened because an employer failed to make a final payment statement for the 2013/14 tax year meaning our records were incomplete despite reminders that these submissions had to be made."

But accountancy bodies want HMRC to take its share of the blame. The Association of Taxation Technicians wants an "urgent review" of the RTI system by external tax experts. The body's president, Natalie Miller, said blaming employers for failing to provide the necessary information raises 2 important questions:

"Firstly, that the process is simply too complex for employers to understand. Secondly, that either HMRC knows the information to be incomplete and is failing to address this before placing reliance on the information, or HMRC does not know the information is incomplete, which raises the equally worrying prospect that the system cannot identify when important information is missing."

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has:

"… asked HMRC to mount a full investigation into the problems as a matter of urgency and work with the professional bodies and payroll providers to make sure such problems do not arise again."

According to the BBC, the head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants said HMRC needs to "sharpen up its act."

Let our payroll team become your payroll team

If you're one of the many small employers struggling to comply with RTI rules, call us today. We provide a complete, end-to-end payroll service that includes submitting accurate information to HMRC on time and issuing payslips to your workers.

Call us on 01628 631056 or complete our contact form so that an adviser can call you back.