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Fears voiced over scheme return e-filing

A survey reveals that over eight out of 10 pension trustee administrators are concerned about their readiness for the onset of online scheme returns.

Technology company Altus, which commissioned the research, found that 80.7 per cent of administrators have some or significant fears about e-filing becoming mandatory on October 16.

From that date, scheme administrators must file all quarterly accounting for tax, annual event report and annual pension scheme returns electronically to HM Revenue & Customs.

Altus product manager Ben Cocks says the main concerns voiced are over security, control and audit trails.

Cocks says: “The fines are a serious concern. With an average of about £300 for a late return and 12.2 per cent of respondents already being fined by HMRC, this is a real threat.”

Altus found 63.6 per cent of those that have already used the systems are unclear whe-ther the submitted data had been accepted by HMRC, while 71.7 per cent express marked concern about the process of reporting and correction of errors.

Validation of data and effective record-keeping is a concern for 50 per cent of respondents. More than one in three, at 37.4 per cent, said that if challenged by HMRC they are currently unsure if they could produce records to confirm the contents and successful submission of a specific return.

Cocks says: “Perversely, many companies are resorting to paper to resolve this with more than 56 per cent printing off web pages and filing them to cover themselves in case of an investigation, which completely defeats the purpose of having e-submissions.”

The company surveyed 125 responses pension scheme administrators, including third party administrators, life companies and individual scheme administrators.

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