Eight in ten pension scheme administrators say they're ill-prepared for mandatory e-filing in 12 weeks, a survey suggests.
According to the study commissioned by software firm Altus, around half of users have already experienced a 'total failure' when submitting returns.
In addition, a total of 40% have lost data manually entered before final confirmation and more than 80% say Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website is unavailable or slow to respond.
From October 16 it will become compulsory for scheme administrators to file all quarterly accounting for tax returns, annual event report returns and annual pension scheme returns electronically to HMRC.
More than a quarter spend between one and two hours to complete records for each return and more than 20% estimates it takes more than three hours.
Nearly two thirds of users are unclear whether HMRC has accepted the submitted data. More than two thirds of pension scheme administrators feel concerned about reporting and correcting errors and half feel concerned about validating data and effective record keeping.
HMRC says it could issue fines for late or incorrect returns or if administrators fail to keep accurate records.
Ben Cocks, product manager at Altus, tells IFAonline an administrator could receive a £300 fine for each case and a £60 fine for each day a submission is late.
He adds, however, the potential damage to the administrator’s reputation is a bigger threat.
More than one in three admits they might not produce returns records too if issued a penalty. More than 12% have already been fined. More than half of companies are printing hard copies of returns to provide submission proof.
Cocks adds: “Even though the filing of HMRC returns will become wholly electronic in October, most companies will still be using paper in the overall process either to keep a record of the HMRC response - 56% - or to seek approval from the trustees - 18%. So even though HMRC are suffering from some technical problems, they still seem to be leading the way in automating UK plc."
Almost 10% of administrators process more than 1,000 returns a year. All but one of HMRC’s larger users experienced problems with the forms.
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