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Client information sheets withdrawn

01 December 2008
Categories: News , clients' account information sheets , SA 327 , Admin
SA 327 dropped for data security reasons

HMRC will not this year issue clients' account information sheets (SA 327) - also known as agents' statements of account - because of data security changes.

The sheets have been issued by the Revenue every June and December since 1996, showing transactions on every client's self assessment account for the previous six months, with the exception of accrued interest or cancelled surcharges. Clients' account information sheets are issued in all cases in which an agent is noted as acting on a customer's self assessment record.

In the light of stricter data security requirements imposed across all Government departments, HMRC carried out a full end-to-end data security review of this production process and reluctantly concluded that they will not be able to issue clients' account information sheets in December 2008 and June 2009 without taking steps to isolate certain groups of data and change the methods for their package and dispatch.

This cannot be achieved ahead of the normal dates of issue and would in addition have involved significant costs. Longer term IT system changes will be required to meet the new data security standards and these cannot be made before October 2009.

Recognising that some agents find the copy statements helpful, often because of the payslips attached to them, the Revenue has looked into the feasibility of providing blank statement books for agents to use, but found that, in the past, that this facility offered no material benefit over asking taxpayers to forward the slips they receive with their statement or reminders.

Since payslip books were last made available, HMRC have introduced a number of other payment routes that do not require the use of a payslip.

Payslips will continue to be attached to the statements of account and filing and payment/payment reminders that are issued each December to self assessment taxpayers. Agents can still view copies of paper statements issued to clients by using the online 'view statement' facility, and full details of liability and payment can be read by using the online 'view account' facility.

Where an over-repayment has arisen, the 'view account' facility cannot be accessed, but HMRC are working on a solution to that problem and will keep agent groups informed.

The initial paper statements can continue to be sent direct to agents instead of to the taxpayer if the client has given the appropriate authority.

Brian Palmer of the National Working Together Steering Group (WTSG) said that members were very sorry that this important facility for agents was to be lost.

He was confident , however, that HMRC have taken notice of the group's robust representations over the impact of the withdrawal on agents, especially in the run up to January - and as a consequence the Revenue has only made the decision as a last result.

In the meantime, agents who deal with their clients' payments should ensure they advise clients to retain the payment slips received personally and forward them to their agents at the time of supplying their remittances.

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