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No examples from HMRC for software developers

This article has been updated here

 

Software developers update their products in line with legislation and the guidance provided by HMRC. This goes through rigorous testing before it is released to respective clients. This testing is aided by HMRC’s own ‘Payroll Test Data’ which contains example income tax, National Insurance and Student Loan calculations and the expected results. This has been the case for many years and the test data pack is eagerly awaited.

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Therefore, an e-mail dated 21 December 2017 from Dennis Dawkins, senior delivery operations lead at HMRC’s software developer support team, came as a shock when it stated:

 

“HMRC has previously published example data which some developers have used in testing the tax and National Insurance calculations in their payroll products. Based on usage figures for the 2017-18 example data for tax and NI, it has been decided that example data will not be provided for the tax year 2018-19. The 2017-18 data will remain on Gov.uk for reference.

 

Payroll calculations do not get any easier for software developers to programme into products and they rely on this test data information to check their products are performing as HMRC expects. Knowing this test data is used by developers gives comfort to the UK payroll professionals that use these products. 2018-19 brings with it the potential for two new tax bands for Scottish taxpayers (and one renamed), so it is shocking and disappointing in my mind that HMRC has chosen to withdraw this valuable support tool for developers.

 

With the prospect of Welsh tax in 2019-20 bringing more divergence of bands and rates in the United Kingdom, withdrawing this test data seems an incredulous decision to have made. I am aware of a number of developers and payroll developer representative bodies who have voiced their concern and I hope that payroll representative bodies will be doing the same.

 

Given the feedback I have seen from developers, I make the following comments:

 

  • Developers do use this information, so you have to question where HMRC gets its usage figures from.
  • Dare I say it, are the numerous examples and different situations proving too complex for HMRC to reliably produce this test data information?
  • Do they now expect individual developers to develop their own test data? That leads us to the prospect of misinterpretation, with one product interpreting guidance one way and another in a completely different way. I hear the term ‘non-compliance’ ringing in my ears.

I for one will be expressing my disquiet and concern to the Software Developer Support Team at sdsteam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and I would encourage others to do so if they use this test data information.

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