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Government Gateway Scheduled Closures

January 10, 2013


The Government Gateway, the government website that provides access to all secure government electronic services including RTI, has to shut down twice a year for scheduled maintenance. It is not clear what the likely impacts will be for employers who need to be able to access the Gateway to notify PAYE in real time to HMRC from the start of the 2013 tax year.

HMRC’s radical new overhaul of PAYE Real Time Information or PAYE RTI starting in April 2013 relies on the Government Gateway to receive employer reporting via the internet every time employers run their payroll and pay employees. The introduction of PAYE RTI creates a significantly higher level of data transactions for the Government Gateway than it has handled previously. RTI reporting, because of the requirement RTI creates for employers to tell HMRC ‘on or before’ the date payment is made, will be passed to the Government Gateway continuously.

However, the Government Gateway, has in the past always shut down to carry out ‘essential scheduled maintenance’ every six months for up to a week at a time, in April and October, making it unavailable to employers and payroll service providers wanting to report RTI in this time if the practice continues. It is not clear if infrastructure changes to the Gateway have been put in place that would remove the need to take the website off line as before.

The accountancy professional associations flagged their concern to HMRC that continuing the programme of scheduled maintenance to the Government Gateway of previous years would have impacts for employers, because of their obligation to report RTI every time they run payroll. Those employers whose payroll coincides with future Government Gateway scheduled maintenance periods that are unable to report RTI as a result, could find themselves in technical breach of their RTI reporting obligations.  HMRC has announced that technical breaches of employer RTI reporting and future penalties will be generated automatically by HMRC systems.

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