HMRC Test-in-Live option


HMRC allows filers to test the validity of CT submissions via its ‘Test-in-Live’ service. This is principally intended for software testing, but it can be used by preparers. iXBRL accounts can be tested by including them in a minimal ‘dummy’ CT package. However, the HMRC Test-in-Live system suffers from some practical disadvantages for preparers and taggers:

  • It must use a valid company ID and associated reference numbers, so that companies have to file a test as if it were their real company filing. Attaching such reference numbers, including the Unique Tax Reference, to test accounts may be unacceptable to many companies.
  • Companies are inevitably concerned that test filings, which may not be complete, final or signed off, may somehow leak by accident into HMRC’s databases, even though HMRC says that this should not happen.
  • The Test-in-Live system produces the same incomprehensible error messages provided by the government gateways for final filings. These often do not make it easy for preparers to understand and correct problems.

SureFile Accounts surpasses Test-in-Live by using the same validation software which is employed on the government filing gateways, while providing a number of advantages: (a) easy testing of accounts without creating a full CT filing, (b) the use of independent, secure servers, (c) translation of error messages into meaningful terms combined with helpful guidance, and (d) adding supplementary tests which warn of undesirable aspects of tagging.


However, we recognise that some SureFile users may want the additional assurance of receiving an official message from the HMRC Test-in-Live service of the validity of their iXBRL accounts.


We thus offer our users the additional option, at no extra cost, of testing their accounts anonymously via HMRC’s Test-in-Live service. This will provide a confirmation message from HMRC’s own gateway that an accounts submission is valid.


Users can select this option for a filing, once its validity is confirmed via SureFile.


The filing is sent to the Test-in-Live service using the CT envelope and reference numbers of a private company linked to SureFile – NOT the numbers of the company producing the accounts. (Clearly, we do not have the tax reference and related data of the originating company.) There is therefore no risk of HMRC considering this an official filing from the company producing the accounts.


SureFile will not pass a set of accounts via the Test-in-Live service unless a user explicitly selects this option upon receiving a SureFile validation message.