The Government Gateway is a collection of computers which work together in order to accept electronic submissions on behalf of HMRC and other government departments.
It was launched in 2001, and our system has been sending payroll returns to the gateway since 2005, starting with the old year end forms P14 and P35. The format of the submissions has changed many times over the years and, since 2013, it has been in the form of Real Time Information (RTI). After nearly 17 years of service, it will soon be time for the Government Gateway to retire. According to HMRC’s plan, the gateway will stop accepting RTI submissions on the 14th February, 2018.
Payroll software, which previously sent RTI submissions to the Government Gateway, must now send them to HMRC’s new Transaction Engine instead.
HMRC has kept the basic data formats the same, so this change doesn’t involve rewriting the payroll software. It just requires some reconfiguration, making sure that the submissions go to the correct place, and testing that it still works correctly.
We have already changed our system, and all of our customers’ RTI submissions, since December 2017, have been sent to the Transaction Engine. With HMRC’s support, the change went fairly smoothly. We monitor our system very closely, so we know that, most of the time, submissions are processed correctly. Very occasionally, however, the Transaction Engine returns an error that is caused by an internal problem, but these are rare instances, and the problems can be resolved easily by resubmitting the data.
If you use a different payroll system, you may need to do something to direct it to the new Transaction Engine. Depending on the package, you may need to install a software update, or you may need to make a simple change in the settings. If your software vendor has issued an update, and you are ignoring it, you may find the Government Gateway has a surprise for you on Valentine’s Day.