Almost a year after the controversial Real Time Information (RTI) system was introduced for PAYE filings, a survey by HMRC has concluded that the scheme’s overall impact has been beneficial for UK businesses. Despite objections from accounting and payroll bodies, RTI was introduced at the beginning of the 2012/13 tax year. The new digital submission system meant employers had to file details about employee salary, income tax and National Insurance Contributions on or before payday, meaning the taxman would always have up-to-date information on every UK employee.

Despite multiple extensions of leniency (especially for micro-businesses) and some mild technical hiccups, the launch of RTI was largely a success. In November, HMRC contacted businesses using the scheme to see how it had impacted their operations, and found that – on average – payroll processing times had been reduced from 2.6 hours to 1.6 hours – a 40% reduction.

The study – although only conducted with a handful of businesses – likely points toward larger trends in businesses across the country. Three quarters reported that they found the “on or before payday” requirement “easy”, while 72% said it had made no impact or improved their payroll processes.

One of the largest concerns before the introduction of RTI was increases in the cost of payroll services from bookkeeping and accountancy firms. A study shortly before RTI’s introduction found that around two thirds of firms were planning to increase prices to cover compliance costs, including new software and staff retraining. These increases appear to have been largely mitigated, however, with HMRC’s survey finding that most businesses experienced no change in payroll costs when transitioning to RTI.

Overall, 70% of respondents reported they found RTI “easy to deal with overall”, and two thirds said the burden of RTI was low.

You can read the full report here (PDF).