Harvest casuals caught in an RTI trap

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As the fruit and vegetable picking season takes off, employers of harvest casuals and farm labourers are facing difficulties reporting PAYE payments under the new Real Time Information (RTI), reports Chartered Accountants Northampton Harris & Co.
Employers and their trade bodies have met with the tax authorities to discuss the difficulties. HMRC says it needs to ‘gain a better understanding of the problems being faced’.
Until the problem is ironed out, HMRC has confirmed that employers of harvest casuals who pay someone for more than one day but less than two weeks should note that they can report payments to a particular employee on a weekly basis provided that:
• Each individual payment is below the Lower Earning Limit (LEL) of £109. Employers should report any payments above the LEL separately;
• The weekly Full Payment Submission (FPS) report is made within the seven day period allowed for the earliest payment (the seven day period begins on the day after the day on which the earliest payment is made); and
• For reporting purposes, the harvest casual is treated as starting on the date of the first payment and treated as leaving on the date of the last payment covered by the FPS.
HMRC has also updated the harvest casuals and casual beaters guidance. This provides further information on how to report National Insurance contributions where earnings exceed the LEL.
If an employer of harvest casuals has fewer than 50 employees (including any harvest casuals themselves) and finds it difficult to report all payments at the time of making them, they can use the temporary PAYE reporting relaxation during 2013-14 and report on a monthly basis. Please note this relaxation will not be extended beyond 5 April 2014.
Employers should review their payroll and real time reporting processes during this transitional year before late payment and late filing penalties come into force in April 2014, and before the temporary PAYE reporting relaxation expires.

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