There seems to be some confusion about the new Real Time Information rules (RTI) and when penalties apply. There are three situations where a fine can be imposed.
Penalties for late returns
There will be no penalties if your RTI returns are submitted late for 2012 – 2013 (if you are in the pilot) or 2013 – 2014.
Penalties for inaccurate returns
According to HMRC: “Penalties for inaccuracies may apply from the 2013-14 tax year. HMRC will continue to use a risk-based approach to identify employers who may be submitting incorrect returns.”
Late payment of PAYE due
The rules here do not change with the implementation of RTI.
“HMRC will continue to use a risk-based approach to identify employers who are not complying with their payment obligations and who therefore might be liable to late payment penalties.” Full guidance from HMRC can be found here.
My advice? If you don’t think your data is accurate, don’t submit a return until it is. You won’t be fined for a late return, but will be fined if you submit inaccurate data.
Of course you will need to make sure your data is accurate and submit on time for your April 2014 payroll runs, although it’s worth noting that the last day for your RTI return for 2013-2014 is 19 May 2014.
If in any doubt about RTI contact your payroll provider or your accountant.
** After this article was published, HMRC announced a "relaxation of reporting arrangements for small businesses". According to HMRC: "Until 5 October 2013, employers with fewer than 50 employees, who find it difficult to report every payment to employees at the time of payment, may send information to HMRC by the date of their regular payroll run but no later than the end of the tax month (5th)." We’ve put together an RTI resource page that contains a handy checklist, various articles, blogs and news.