One of our payroll clients recently received a letter from a Debt Recovery company advising of PAYE owing to HMRC. They forwarded the letter to us because, as we do their accounts too, they were surprised we hadn't notified them that they had missed a payment.
As soon as we saw the letter we knew that either they had been wrongly advised there was a debit by HMRC or it was a scam.
When we provide payroll services to our clients we are registered with HMRC for each of these employers and receive notification of any late PAYE payments directly from HMRC. We check their PAYE account with HMRC to see if a payment has been received since the notification was issued and if not we either check their accounts if we do their bookkeeping or advise the client to check whether they have made a payment for the period identified. More often than not they have forgotten and immediately make a payment.
Checking that monthly PAYE payments have been made, and that they agree with what has been submitted through the payroll, is one of the regular checks we do for the clients we provide a bookkeeping service to. And, of course we advise them promptly if they have missed a payment.
Going back to the debt recovery letter - we immediately checked the client's PAYE account on HMRC and found that there were no overdue payments. This was a relief to the client as they had planned to make the payment before deciding to send us the letter first.
On further investigation of the letter the company were identified as a collector of debt on behalf of HMRC. However the telephone number to call was not the same as on the company's website and on researching the telephone number it was identified as having been reported by numerous people.
This situation was quickly resolved in just 15 minutes, saving our client a few hundred pounds. We followed up with an email to all our payroll clients advising them to get in touch with us before making any requested payment for PAYE debt. We can quickly and easily access our client's PAYE accounts with HMRC and can identify whether they owe anything or not.
It is also worth bearing in mind that HMRC will never ask a debt collection company to chase a debt which is only a few days late. They will notify the employer and/or the agent of unpaid amounts well in advance of passing on any debt for collection.