Issue with tax due to ex-employer payroll error


Hoping someone can assist us with some advice. Apologies in advance, it's a long story.

Last December, my wife received half her normal nett salary with no warning or letter from HMRC to say her tax code had changed. When we finally got through to HMRC, we were told that she had apparently earned £70,000 in the 2022 to 2023 tax year from an employer she had left in 2021. We sent HMRC her P45 demonstrating she had left their employ and had been working for a different employer since September 2021 (she us a teacher). 

We then went back and forth with HMRC, often waiting an hour or longer on hold inly to be cut off, and were advised to ask her employer to contact HMRC to rectify her record and confirm she had not worked for them since 2021, even though she had a P45 demonstrating she left their employ in that year.

We contacted the ex employer and they tried to help, passing the issue on to their payroll provider who had apparently mistakenly submitted information to HMRC saying she had earned this huge salary. They claimed they had sent an update to HMRC to rectify the error but it had bounced back for some reason, but that we should present the PDF they sent us as proof she had not worked for the company since 2021.

On the phone to HMRC again for hours, only to be told that they still required the payroll provider to confirm she had not worked for the company after 2021. Interestingly they Saif the payroll company should "admit" that they had made an error.

We have tried to contact the payroll provider and the ex-employee again and have now been ignored. Out of desperation, we have now taken on a tax accountant (at our own expense) to help us sort things out and she has been very helpful. We had hoped the tax error would be rectified for my wife's July salary, but tonight received a new letter from HMRC saying that she still has numerous salaries of different amounts against 3 different payroll numbers recorded with HMRC by the ex employer and we need to ask them ro rectify the record.

While all this has been going on, we have had to borrow money to keep ourselves afloat, again at cost to us, as she has earned well under what she should after deductions. We seem to be going in circles. I'm sure our tax accountant will help us get this resolved eventually but I have a few questions:

1. This seems like either gross incompetence bordering on negligence, or fraud. Is there an ombudsman or regulator we can contact to investigate what has happened here as we seem unlikely to get support from the ex employer or payroll provider?

2. Do we have any recourse to payment for expenses we have incurred as a result of this issue, which has been no fault of our own?

Thanks in advance for any advice.


  • Dazed_and_C0nfused
    Dazed_and_C0nfused Forumite Posts: 11,544
    10,000 Posts Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    Having had some past experience of similar situations the only way you will get this completely resolved is for the employer who has submitted incorrect data to correct that.

    The fact you have a P45 is really of no relevance, that doesn't prove anything useful.  Neither does having had another job.  Millions of people have multiple jobs at the same time.

    However there may be a short term answer.

    What is her current tax code and, if it's not the emergency code (1257L) what is the breakdown of how it has been calculated?
  • Jiajones
    Jiajones Forumite Posts: 2
    First Post
    Thanks for the quick response. Yes, she is on an emergency code now. Good to know that the only long term remedy is for the ex employer to fix it from their end too, as much as we have struggled to get them to do that to date. The frustration is that they now seem to he ignoring us, but we will continue to try. 

    Assuming we continue to get no response from them, is there an ombudsman/regulator/mediator we can contact? Would it help to contact ACAS?
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