HMRC has confirmed that, due to recent technical problems with its IT, some companies will need to re-submit their annual returns for employee share plans.
HMRC is writing to the affected companies over the next few weeks, so companies which submitted annual returns online should look out for correspondence from HMRC to find out whether any further action is required.
As set out in our recent updates, companies operating employee share plans (whether tax-advantaged or unapproved) had to register their arrangements and submit their annual returns online to HMRC by 6 July 2015.
However, due to technical problems with the HMRC Employment Related Securities (ERS) Online Service, the deadline for filing annual returns was extended to 4 August 2015. At that point, HMRC indicated that it was still investigating whether companies that filed their returns before the original deadline and received an on-screen acknowledgement might need to re-submit their returns.
HMRC has now confirmed that the technical problem has affected the data received from some of its customers’ returns, which means that the companies affected will need to re-submit their annual returns. For companies which operate multiple plans, HMRC will send a separate letter for each return that needs to be re-submitted.
We understand that HMRC will ask the affected companies to re-submit their returns as soon as possible (using the same ERS Online Service procedure under which the returns were originally submitted), and in any event before 1 January 2016.
The affected companies have not been charged a late-filing penalty, and HMRC has apologised for the inconvenience.
Clearly the need for HMRC to extend the deadline for submitting annual returns and ask some companies to re-submit their returns due to technical problems is not the introduction to online filing which HMRC would have wished for – hopefully the process for the year ending 5 April 2016 will be smoother!