HMRC announces end of trial of alternative pre-population route

By Technical Team on 05 Mar 2020

To help with the completion of self-assessment tax returns, many agents will use software that can download PAYE-related information that HMRC already holds about their clients. While this can be very helpful, the present ‘phase 1’ system does have flaws and we receive a lot of feedback each year from members frustrated about what information they receive in this manner.

Over the last year HMRC has been trialling an alternative approach to provide PAYE-related data that it already holds with a small number of members. This ‘phase 2’ trial was private beta only, and required the client to complete a digital handshake with their agent before any information could be downloaded. While this was cumbersome, once authorised, the agent could access more of the information HMRC already held about their client. However, we have been advised by HMRC that, as of 28 February, the trial of ‘phase 2’ has been ceased and the API which was being trialled will stop working from early April 2020.

While this is disappointing, agents should still be able to access the original four ‘phase 1’ APIs that allow their software to download information from HMRC’s systems including

  • Income from employments, pensions and some state benefits, including taxable incapacity benefit and ESA
  • Tax deducted from employments, pensions and incapacity benefit
  • P11D benefit information
  • Employment history

Information from these ‘phase 1’ APIs is accessed via software which has implemented the API and which contains the agent credentials. The data can be accessed for clients in self-assessment provided a valid 64-8 is in place.

We are expecting an update from HMRC about when the phase 2 development which has been stopped will be replaced with a ‘phase 3’ development. HMRC’s developer service site lists a number of potential improvements to be included in a ‘phase 3’ roadmap.

We will of course continue to press for improvements to this valuable service.

Posted in: Technical News