Taxman urges employers not to refer to employees as ‘unknowns’

Employers are clearly not as in touch with their workforce as they claim to be as data sent to HM Revenue and Customs shows.

In 2009/10, more than 500 PAYE forms incorrectly claimed to employ A N Other, 128 staff were entered as Mr, Ms or Mrs Dummy, and 40 employees had apparently reached the grand old age of 200.

Nearly 600 employees had surnames that included the letter X, while 75 had the surname ‘casual’. Other surnames included ‘worker’ and ‘student’. A large number of employees were simply referred to as ‘unknown’.

Jim Harra, director of customer operations of HMRC, said: “Most employers get their PAYE returns right. The few who do not cause problems for their employees, for example, incorrect deductions of tax.

“Around 80% of errors in employee data are due to an incorrect name, date of birth or national insurance number – straightforward information that can be collected and checked quite easily.

“So, whether employing ‘Mr or Mrs J Smith’ – or even ‘Mr or Mrs A N Other’, please use the full and official name on PAYE paperwork.

“First names are very important, especially for common surnames. We really want employers to check that they are sending us the right details for all their employees, to make life easier for them, HMRC and their employees.”

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