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HMRC internal manual

COTAX Manual

Returns / notices: notices and returns: How to deal with common online filing problems (Action Guide)

There are times when companies or agents have problems submitting returns electronically. This section has some examples with advice on how to deal with them.

The company or agent may contact their responsible office by letter, telephone, or a template provided on the HMRC website.

To deal with common online filing problems, consider steps 1 to 41 below. The guide is presented as follows.

Action Steps
Customer wishes to file online but is unable to before the deadline because of temporary and unforeseen problems with company’s or agent’s IT Steps 1 - 3
Customer wishes to file online but is unable to before the deadline because of a problem with HMRC’s online filing system Steps 4 - 7
Customer wants to file online but is unable to before the deadline because it has not been able to access the required broadband or dial-up connection Steps 8 - 12
Customer can file online but is temporarily unable to file accounts or computations in iXBRL because of unforeseen problems with company’s or agent’s IT Steps 13 - 16
Customer can file online but is temporarily unable to fully or correctly tag its accounts or computations because of unforeseen problems with company’s or agent’s IT Steps 17 - 21
Customer can file online but is temporarily unable to file accounts or computations in iXBRL because of unforeseen problems with the third party to whom it has entrusted its iXBRL tagging Steps 22 - 25
Customer wishes to file online but is unable to do so before the deadline because of some other reason Step 26
Agent wants to file online for several customers but is unable to do so before the relevant deadline because of a temporary and unforeseen problem with their IT system or filing software Steps 27 - 30
Customer does not wish to file online because of a religious objection but will submit a paper return on time Steps 31 - 33
Customer is insolvent Steps 34 - 35
Customer is an unincorporated charity, club or association Step 36
Customer is a construction industry scheme case and wishes to file online but is unable to do so before the deadline because of one of the above reasons Step 37
Customer wishes a late filing penalty to be cancelled on the basis of reasonable excuse Steps 38 - 41

Customer wishes to file online but is unable to before the deadline because of temporary and unforeseen problems with company’s or agent’s IT

  1.  Do you consider that the customer fully intended to file online but has been prevented from doing so by a temporary and unforeseen IT problem?

If yes, go to step 2.

If no, go to step 3.

  1.  Give the customer further time if that would enable them to file online. Use function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment). See COM100030 for more information.

If further time will not solve the customer’s problem, allow them to submit a paper return if it is the only way they can submit on time.

  1.  If, exceptionally, you are not satisfied that the customer should be granted further time:
  • refer the case to the HO Technical Support team if you are in CT Services
  • inform the customer if you are not in CT Services.

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Customer wishes to file online but is unable to before the deadline because of a problem with HMRC’s online filing system

  1.  Does the problem refer to a known problem with HMRC’s online filing system?

If yes and you know that the problem is likely to be fixed very soon by a known date, go to step 5.

If yes and it is unclear when the problem will be fixed, or you know that it will take some time, go to step 6.

If it is a new problem, go to step 7.

  1.  Allow the customer further time using function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment), based on when we expect the problem to be fixed. See COM100030 for more information.

  2.  Allow the customer to submit a paper return to meet the filing deadline.

  3.  Verify the nature and impact of the problem. Escalate it to the Online Services Helpdesk so it can be resolved centrally. Allow the customer to submit a paper return so they can file on time.Top of page

Customer wants to file online but is unable to before the deadline because it has not been able to access the required broadband or dial-up connection

  1.  Any long-term inability to easily access broadband or dial-up is not an acceptable reason for not filing online. Ask the customer to make other arrangements such as:
  • using public internet facilities such as an internet cafe
  • using the facilities of a friend or family member
  • asking for the assistance of an agent.
  1.  Is the customer happy to make such arrangements but needs some time to do so?

If yes, and they require up to two weeks, go to step 10.

If yes, but they cannot make the necessary arrangements within two weeks, go to step 11.

If no, go to step 12.

10. Allow the customer further time using function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment). See COM100030 for more information. Advise them that they are expected to make appropriate and timely arrangements for subsequent returns.

11. Allow the customer to submit a paper return if that is the only way to ensure that it is submitted on time. Advise them that they are expected to make appropriate and timely arrangements for subsequent returns.

12. If, exceptionally, you are not satisfied that the customer should be granted further time:

  • refer the case to the HO Technical Support team if you are in CT Services
  • inform the customer if you are not in CT Services.

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Customer can file online but is temporarily unable to file accounts or computations in iXBRL because of unforeseen problems with company’s or agent’s IT

13. Are you satisfied that the customer fully intended to file online in iXBRL, but has been prevented from doing so by an unforeseen problem?

If yes, and the problem is temporary, go to step 14.

If yes but the problem is not temporary, go to step 15.

If no, go to step 16.

14. Allow the customer further time using function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment). See COM100030 for more information.

15. Accept PDF accounts and or computations on this occasion. Advise the company that they must make alternative online submission arrangements for subsequent returns.

16. If, exceptionally, you are not satisfied that the customer should be granted further time:

  • refer the case to the HO Technical Support team if you are in CT Services
  • inform the customer if you are not in CT Services.

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Customer can file online but is temporarily unable to fully or correctly tag its accounts or computations because of unforeseen problems with company’s or agent’s IT

17. Are you satisfied that the customer fully intended to file online in fully tagged iXBRL, but has been prevented from doing so by an unforeseen and temporary problem?

If yes, and the company needs extra time to overcome the problem, go to step 18.

If yes, and the company has partially tagged iXBRL accounts and computations to the minimum level accepted by the Government Gateway, go to step 19.

If yes, but the customer has only PDF accounts and computations, go to step 20.

If no, go to step 21.

18. Allow the customer further time using function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment). See COM100030 for more information.

19. Accept partially tagged iXBRL accounts and computations on this occasion. Advise the company that they need to make alternative online submission arrangements for subsequent returns.

20. If further time will not let the customer provide fully tagged accounts and computations, accept PDFs to ensure the return is submitted on time. Advise the company that they must make alternative online submission arrangements for subsequent returns.

21. If, exceptionally, you are not satisfied that the customer should be granted further time:

  • refer the case to the HO Technical Support team if you are in CT Services
  • inform the customer if you are not in CT Services.

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Customer can file online but is temporarily unable to file accounts or computations in iXBRL because of unforeseen problems with the third party to whom it has entrusted its iXBRL tagging

22. Are you satisfied that the customer fully intended to file online in fully-tagged iXBRL but has been prevented from doing so by an unforeseen problem?

If yes, and they can fulfil their obligation if given extra time, go to step 23.

If yes, but they can provide only PDF accounts and computations, go to step 24.

If no, go to step 25.

23. Allow the customer further time using function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment). See COM100030 for more information.

24. Allow the customer to submit PDF accounts and computations with their return to ensure the return is submitted on time.

25. If, exceptionally, you are not satisfied that the customer should be granted further time:

  • refer the case to the HO Technical Support team if you are in CT Services
  • inform the customer if you are not in CT Services.

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Customer wishes to file online but is unable to do so before the deadline because of some other reason

26. Are you satisfied that the customer fully intended to file online in fully-tagged iXBRL but has been prevented from doing so by an unforeseen problem?

If yes, allow the customer further time using function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment). See COM100030 for more information.

If, exceptionally, you are not satisfied that the customer should be granted further time:

  • refer the case to the HO Technical Support team if you are in CT Services
  • inform the customer if you are not in CT Services.

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Agent wants to file online for several customers but is unable to do so before the relevant deadline because of a temporary and unforeseen problem with their IT system or filing software

27. If the agent contacts a CT Services office, refer the submission to the HO Technical Support team for review.

28. In all cases, is it clear that appropriate preparations were made to enable customers’ returns to be filed online, on time, in fully-tagged iXBRL, but an unforeseen problem has subsequently arisen?

If yes, and further time will solve the problem, go to step 29.

If yes, and the agent wants to file PDF or partly-tagged accounts and computations or file on paper to meet the filing deadlines, go to step 30.

29. Allow the customer further time using function RDAC (Record Filing Date Adjustment). See COM100030 for more information.

30. Where further time will not solve the problem, allow the submission of PDF or partly-tagged accounts and computations or paper returns to enable them to be submitted on time.

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Customer does not wish to file online because of a religious objection but will submit a paper return on time

31. Does the customer’s submission show that the company is run entirely by individuals who are practising members of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications?

If yes, go to step 32.

If no, go to step 33.

32. Allow the exemption and allow the submission of a paper return.

33. Refer the application to Process Design & Excellence’s Tax Administration, Litigation and Advice Unit (TALA) for advice.

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Customer is insolvent

34. If the company is insolvent within a formal administration or winding up procedure, it is excluded from mandatory online filing. Accept a paper return.

35. If the company is in a members’ voluntary liquidation, that is, it is solvent, it is not excluded from mandatory online filing. We expect the company to file a full online return including full iXBRL Companies Act accounts. However, you must refer to COM130050 for full guidance before rejecting any return for these cases.

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Customer is an unincorporated charity, club or association

36. These organisations must file online and submit their computations in iXBRL. The accounts may be in either iXBRL or PDF.

In the case of charities, where the CT600E is completed and confirms that all income and gains of the charity are exempt from tax and have been, or will be, applied for charitable purposes, no computation is required at all.

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Customer is a construction industry scheme case and wishes to file online but is unable to do so before the deadline because of one of the above reasons

37. Follow the relevant part of the action guide but make sure you process the case within four weeks of the normal filing date.

You must do this because:

  • the compliance check element of the CIS renewal process takes place on an annual cycle that varies case by case
  • the compliance check includes an automatic reference to the Data Warehouse to make sure that the company’s tax returns are up to date.

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Customer wishes a late filing penalty to be cancelled on the basis of reasonable excuse

38. Does the customer want a late filing penalty to be cancelled on the basis of reasonable excuse and you agree that they fully intended to file online but were prevented from doing so by a temporary and unforeseen IT problem that was only resolved after the filing deadline?

If yes, and the return has been received, go to step 39.

If yes, and the return has not been received, go to step 40.

If no, go to step 41.

39. Use function PPEN (Prepare Penalty Determination) to reduce the penalty to nil. Wait for COTAX to automatically amend the penalty to nil, or use function PPEN (Prepare Penalty Determination) to do so.

40. Advise the customer that the appeal will be reviewed once the return has been submitted.

41. If, exceptionally, you are not satisfied that reasonable excuse applies:

  • refer the case to the HO Technical Support team if you are in CT Services
  • inform the customer if you are not in CT Services.