Rural businesses in the South West planning to employ temporary or seasonal workers this summer are being urged to act now to avoid falling foul of planned changes to the income tax regime.
From April 2013 HM Revenue and Customs will compel all employers to electronically report PAYE details every time an employee is paid, under a scheme known as Real Time Information (RTI).
The system will replace the current obligation to report PAYE payments annually and could catch out many rural and farming businesses – traditionally heavily reliant on a flexible workforce – unless preparations are made now.
Nigel Parsons, MD of rural and property accounts software specialists Landmark Systems, explained: “While for a standard business the process of RTI shouldn’t be too onerous – and is obviously simplified by the use of a good payroll system – it is the non-standard businesses where the problems will arise.
“Take for example the farmer struggling to harvest specialist crops in difficult conditions who has to flex the number of casual staff up and down on a regular basis. For this type of business the extra burden of having to electronically report every payment is going to be extremely time consuming unless proper plans are in place.”
HMRC says it is introducing the changes in a bid to reduce over and under payments for employees and enable more accurate records of wages and tax to be collected ahead of the forthcoming introduction of Universal Credits.
However the new proposals have attracted widespread criticism from bodies including the National Farmers Union, who are calling for the scheme to be watered down and replaced by monthly PAYE reporting.
Nigel Parsons added: “Whatever the outcome of the lobbying, now is the time for rural businesses to be talking to their advisors about what the new rules may mean for them.
“They will need to carefully consider how they currently process their payroll, how they will ensure they have all the information necessary to file on a weekly basis and if they need to adapt their payments systems to reduce the administrative burden.”
Landmark Systems has recently upgraded its specialist KEY Casual accounts and payroll software package to take the proposed PAYE changes into account. More information on how the software works is available at www.landmarksystems.co.uk