FAQs about e-filing of Employer's Return

  • Q1.
    What services relating to the Internet filing of Employer’s Return are available under eTAX?
    Ans

    eTAX provides the following two services relating to the Internet filing of Employer’s Return

    • Completion of Employer’s Return (for filling in return information for Employer’s Annual Returns (BIR56A/IR56B, IR6036B/IR56M) and Notifications (IR56E/IR56F/IR56G) or checking the data file for Employer’s Annual Return (IR56B) to be uploaded for filing with BIR56A)
    • Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return (for filling in return information which is similar to the completion function, checking and uploading of data file for IR56B to be uploaded with BIR56A, where appropriate, signing and submission of return)
  • Q2.
    Who can use the “Completion of Employer’s Return” service to complete the return? If I do not have an eTAX Account, can I use the service?
    Ans

    Any person (e.g. accounting staff, tax representative) authorized by the employer can use the “Completion of Employer’s Return” service, irrespective of whether he has an eTAX Account or not.  However, the Returns must be signed and submitted by a designated person to sign the Employer’s Return using his eTAX Password, MyGovHK Password or recognised personal digital certificate.

  • Q3.
    I am the tax representative and would like to use the e-filing service. Can a tax representative submit employer’s return on behalf of the client?
    Ans

    Only the following officer designated in the Employer’s Return (i.e. BIR56A) can sign employer’s return :-

    (1) Proprietor for a sole proprietorship business

    (2) Precedent Partner for a partnership business

    (3) Company Secretary, Manager or Director for a corporation

    (4) Principal Officer for a body of persons

    However, any person authorized by the Employer, including a tax representative, can use the service of the “Completion of Employer's Return” service to prepare forms without the need of using an eTAX Account.  Then, the prepared employer’s return should be saved for subsequent retrieval by the Filer for submission under the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer's Return” service.  

    Alternatively, the authorized person can use the “Completion of Employer’s Return” service to check the correctness of the data file containing IR56B records. Then, the filer can upload the prepared data file and submit the Employer’s Return under the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” Service.

     

  • Q4.
    Why the online completion and submission of IR56 forms including submission of annual employer’s return is limited to 30 sets in the e-filing service?
    Ans

    According to our record, most of the employers in Hong Kong are small or medium enterprises.  Over 80 percent of employers in Hong Kong only need to prepare 30 or less IR56B/M in a year. 

    For employers who need to file more than 30 but not more than 200 IR56B, they can use the new function of uploading a data file together with submission of BIR56A online. 

    For other notifications IR56E/F/G and their amendments and also corrections of annual returns (IR56B/IR56M), you can submit up to 30 sets at a time and multiple submissions are allowed in a day.

     

  • Q5.
    How can I prepare a data file for uploading IR56B in the e-filing service?
    Ans

    The data file must be extracted from either IR56B Software provided by IRD or a software developed by employer pre-approved by IRD.  IR56B software provided by IRD can be downloaded from the IRD Homepage.  Software self-developed by employer must be in accordance with the requirements specified by IRD and prior approval in writing from IRD must be obtained first before use.

  • Q6.
    What are the requirements of the data file for uploading IR56B in the e-filing service?
    Ans

    The data file for uploading IR56B in the e-filing service must be saved in specified XML format, containing up to 200 sets of records.  The file size is limited to 5 megabytes.

  • Q7.
    What should I do if there is/are error(s) found in the upload data file?
    Ans

    For errors found in the records of the uploaded data file, you are required to exit the e-filing service and rectify all the errors using your source application (i.e. IRD IR56B software or Employer’s self-developed software) and then extract a corrected data file for upload again.

    If the error displayed is “You are not yet approved by Inland Revenue Department to use Self-developed Software”, you are required to contact IRD to obtain written approval of your Self-developed Software before use of the new uploading function.  Please visit the IRD Homepage for further information on the requirement [http://www.ird.gov.hk/eng/pdf/ir56b_spec_e.pdf].

    However, for critical errors (e.g. number of records exceed 200 or file size of the uploaded file exceeds 5 megabytes), the system will stop processing and you should file the annual employer’s return by other means, like submitting a diskette/CD/DVD prepared via the IRD IR56B Software or Self-developed Software approved by IRD.

  • Q8.
    Why must I input the “Self-selected Key” for the draft return file holding the return records I have completed online?
    Ans

    We understand employers’ concern on data security. “Self-selected Key” helps to prevent unauthorized person from making access to the sensitive information stored in the file.

  • Q9.
    What should I do if I have forgotten the “Self-selected Key”?
    Ans

    The Inland Revenue Department has no information of the “Self-selected Key” and could not offer any assistance in retrieving the saved return file.

  • Q10.
    What types of data can be imported during the e-filing process by online completion?
    Ans

    Employers can import data from the previously online completed and submitted Annual Return file (BIR56A) for completing IR56B, IR56F and IR56G (Original/Additional/Replacement).

    Apart from employees’ personal information, the system will import the employer’s particulars, including the designation of filer, contact telephone number and email address, into BIR56A.

    The system also provides similar data import function for IR56M.  Employers can import data from the previously submitted IR6036B file for online completion of IR56M (Original/Additional/Replacement) and IR6036B.

  • Q12.
    Can an employer use e-filing service if the employer has no need to submit IR56B or IR56M? Is data import function applicable?
    Ans

    Employer can submit BIR56A and IR6036B by online completion with “Nil” set of IR56B and IR56M via the e-filing platform.

    The system can import the employer’s particulars, including the designation of filer, contact telephone number and email address from a previously submitted Annual Return file by online completion, into BIR56A that is now being completed.

    The system can also import payer’s particulars from a previously submitted Annual Notification Return file into IR6036B.

    However, Employer cannot upload a data file of no IR56B records for filing a BIR56A with nil IR56B records through the upload channel.

  • Q13.
    Can I save a partially completed Employer’s Return for further completion and submission later?
    Ans

    Yes, you can save the input data by clicking on the [Save Draft] button during the completion process.  You may continue to complete the return later by using the electronic filing of Employer’s Return service again.

  • Q14.
    Can I change the filename allotted by the system when I save the draft return file?
    Ans

    Yes, you may change the filename of the draft return file.  

  • Q15.
    How can I retrieve the draft return?
    Ans

    The draft return file is encrypted and can only be opened through the “Completion of Employer’s Return” service or “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service by inputting a Business Registration Number / Employer’s File Number and when the “Self-selected Key” is matched with the information saved in the encrypted file.

  • Q16.
    Can I save the draft return in a diskette or CD/DVD and submit it to Inland Revenue Department with the printed copy of the draft return?
    Ans

    No, the Employer’s Returns prepared in this system are only accepted through Internet filing under eTAX by using the filer’s own eTAX account.  Submission by diskette, CD/DVD, or printed copies of the draft return is not acceptable.

  • Q17.
    I have used the “Completion of Return” service to prepare the draft return. How should I submit the Employer’s Return?
    Ans

    The Filer (please see answer to question 22) will need to login his eTAX Account and use the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service to retrieve the draft return file.  After confirming the information is in order, he can then sign and submit the returns electronically.

  • Q18.
    I have used the “Completion of Employer’s Return” service to check a data file for upload. How should I submit it with the Employer’s Return?
    Ans

    The Filer (please see answer to question 22) will need to login his eTAX Account and choose “Upload a data file containing IR56B records for Annual Return” under the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service.

  • Q19.
    After I have completed the return, only [Save for Submission] button is available and I cannot find any button to [Submit] the return. What should I do?
    Ans

    The application you used is “Completion of Employer's Return”.  Please click [Save for Submission] button to save the input data.  Afterwards, login your eTAX account and select “Completion and/or Submission of Employer's Return“ service to retrieve the draft return file, sign and submit the return.

  • Q20.
    Why must I input the “Employer’s Identification Code” (ERIC) before submission of Employer’s Return?
    Ans

    For security reason, an employer must input the ERIC to confirm the identity before submitting Employer’s Returns through the Internet.  ERIC will be updated every year and will be provided upon issue of annual Employer’s Return in April.

  • Q21.
    What should I do if I have lost/forgotten my ERIC or I would like to change my ERIC?
    Ans

    Employer should apply for a new ERIC in writing.  Upon receipt of request, the Department will send out the new ERIC by post within 7 working days.  For security reason, the Department will not entertain requests through telephone/email/eTAX service.  The application should be signed by an authorized person (officer designated in the Employer’s Annual Return BIR56A).  Please state the full name and capacity of the signer, employer’s file number, name of employer and contact telephone number in the application with company chop.

  • Q22.
    Who can use the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service to sign and submit Employer’s Return through the Internet?
    Ans

    The Filer must be an eTAX Account holder and in the following capacity:-

    (1) Proprietor of the sole-proprietor business;

    (2) Precedent Partner of the partnership;

    (3) Director, Company Secretary or Manager of the corporation; or

    (4) Principal Officer of a body of persons.

    He can sign and submit Employer’s Return for filing through the Internet.  If he does not have an eTAX Account, he may go to <www.gov.hk/etax> for details of opening one.

  • Q23.
    How can I sign the Employer’s Return during the Internet filing process?
    Ans

    To file Employer’s Return through the Internet, the Filer will need to use his eTAX Password, MyGovHK Password or recognized personal digital certificate to sign the return.

  • Q24.
    Is a company required to open its own eTAX Account for digital signing and submission of Employer’s Return through the Internet?
    Ans

    At present, only individuals can open eTAX Accounts.  To file the Employer’s Return through the Internet, the employer has to assign a qualified Filer (please see answer to question 22), who holds an eTAX Account, to sign and submit the return electronically.

  • Q25.
    The draft Employer’s Return is prepared using English interface. Can I change to Chinese interface ?
    Ans

    Yes, you may swap to the alternate interface by clicking the [English] or [繁體] button at the top right corner at “Step 3 – Select Return Form”. 

  • Q26.
    Can I choose to print the IR56 form for a particular employee designated in English or Chinese ?
    Ans

    In online completing an IR56 form for a particular employee, you may select a preferred language [English] or [中文] to print the IR56 form for him by making a selection at the “Language for Printing this form” in the input screen of “Employee’s Details” independent of the platform you are working.

  • Q27.
    Can a Filer correct the information in the draft return before submission of the Employer’s Return?
    Ans

    Using the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service, the Filer (please see answer to question 22) can open the draft return file and will be shown the return information in the Control List under “Step 7 - Sign and Submit”.  He may click the appropriate “Edit” button on the screen of the Control List and correct the return.  Alternatively, the Filer can ask the Preparer to use “Completion of Employer’s Return” service to make correction as required.  Afterwards the Filer can then sign and submit the returns electronically via the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service.

    For errors found in the records of the uploaded data file, the Filer is required to exit the e-filing service and rectify all the errors using his source application (i.e. IRD IR56B software or Employer’s self-developed software) and then extract a corrected data file for upload again.

  • Q28.
    What should I do if I have forgotten to submit IR56B forms of some employees after submitting the Annual Employer’s Return through e-filing service?
    Ans

    You can make correction of Annual Return by choosing the option “Start to complete a new return” in Step 2 –Enter Employer’s Reference.  Then you may proceed to Step 3– Select Return Form and choose the option “Other Notifications and/or Corrections” in either “Completion of Employer’s Return” or “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service.

    You should then choose “Original” type of form in Step 4 – Complete Employee’s / Recipient’s Particulars and enter the omitted employees’ particulars.

    If you want to report additional sum payable to an employee for whom you have filed an IR56 form, you should choose “Additional” type of form in Step 4 – Complete Employee’s / Recipient’s Particulars and input the additional amount in the appropriate item under the Income Details. 

  • Q29.
    How do I know that I have successfully filed the Employer’s Return through the Internet?
    Ans

    Immediately after you have successfully filed the Employer’s Return through the Internet, an acknowledgement bearing a Transaction Reference Number will be shown on your computer screen.  The acknowledgement represents that the Inland Revenue Department has received your return submitted.  The Inland Revenue Department will also send a copy of the acknowledgement to the designated e-mail address(es) if you have provided the e-mail address(es) for receiving the copy.

  • Q30.
    What is “Check Sum”? What is its use in the e-filing of ER Returns?
    Ans

    A “Check Sum” is derived from the information entered online, data stored in the draft return file or the data file uploaded.  The person using the “Completion of Employer’s Return” service to complete the Employer’s Return (Preparer) will find a “Check Sum” in the “draft Control List”.  While using the “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service, the person responsible to file the return (Filer) can find the “Check Sum” both in the “Simulated Control List” before submission and in the “Acknowledgement” after submission of the return file.  

    The Preparer, after completing the Employer’s Returns, may print the “draft Control List” with the draft Employer’s Returns and pass them to the Filer for reference and checking.  When the Filer uses “Completion and/or Submission of Employer’s Return” service to read the draft return file, he can compare the “Check Sum” on the “draft Control List” against that of the draft return file.  If the details of the two “Check Sum” are identical, the Filer will know the draft return file and the printed copy of draft Employer’s Returns held the same information.  After checking the draft return file and where no change is required, the Filer can sign and submit the return electronically.  The “Check Sum” in the “Acknowledgement” after submission of the return file will be the same as that in the “draft Control List”.  If the Filer makes changes in the draft return file, the “Check Sum” will concurrently be updated.  After submission, the Preparer can know from the “Check Sum” in the “Acknowledgement” that the returns submitted are different from the draft returns he prepared.

  • Q31.
    Can I obtain a Control List and IR56B sheets after uploading a data file and submitting the Employer’s Return?
    Ans

    After the data file is uploaded and the Employer’s Return is submitted, you can obtain a copy of the Employer’s Return and a Control List in Portable Document Format (PDF).  However, copies of IR56Bs are not available.  You should print the IR56Bs from your source application (i.e. IRD IR56B software or Employer’s self-developed Software) and provide a copy to your respective employee.

  • Q32.
    How should I choose to save the submitted return file with return data entered by online completion?
    Ans

    You can save a file either in Portable Document Format (PDF) or as a compressed file in ZIP format.

    If you select to save a PDF file, all the Control List, IR56 Forms and BIR56A/IR6036B (if applicable) are saved in a single, not separable file after successful download.

    If you select to save a compressed file in ZIP format, the Control List, IR56 Forms and BIR56A/IR6036B (if applicable) are packed in a compressed file, which can be separated by unzip function after successful download.

    Notwithstanding the format selected, you should open the file downloaded in your computer or unzip the compressed file to ensure the download has been successful before you leave the e-filing service.

  • Q33.
    A window with message of “Loading is in progress …” is popped up for a prolonged period of time without displaying any simulated returns after pressing the button “Print And Save All Returns”.
    Ans

    Portable document file (PDF) may not be displayed within a compatible web browser if the web browser is not configured correctly with the Adobe PDF browser plug-in.

    Do not exit the e-filing of Employer’s Return service if user is still using the service.  Please try the following to troubleshoot and resolve the issue :

    Reset Internet Explorer (for IE 7 or above, IE 7 is taken for following illustration).

    1. Click “Close” button to acknowledge the message.

    2. Open “Internet Explorer”.

    3. Click the “Tools” tab and then select “Internet Options”.

    4. Click the “Advanced” tab, scroll to the setting for “Security” and UNSELECT the option of “Do not save encrypted pages to disk”.

    5. Click “OK” to end the amendment.

    6. If user has not exited the e-filing Employer’s Return service, click the “Print And Save All Returns” button again and the simulated returns should be promptly displayed.

  • Q34.
    When I open the draft return file for further completion, an error message 612-E-0360 is displayed in the Control List and triangle marks were displayed at some IR56B records. I am not allowed to proceed to next step by clicking “Continue” button. What should I do?
    Ans

    IR56B record was marked with a triangle because the data inputted for the record or the validation for the inputted data is not completed. Therefore, you are not allowed to proceed to next step before completing the data input or validation process.

    When you come across this situation, you should click “Edit” button next to the relevant record, then you will be directed to Step 4 “Complete Employee’s/Recipient’s Particulars” to amend/input information for that record.  If the record still has information to be filled, input the missing information and click the “Continue” button to complete the input.  But if you find all information has already been properly inputted, the triangle mark displayed should be likely due to the incomplete validation of this record when you saved the draft return file previously.  To complete the validation, you should click the “Continue” button in Step 4 until a control list is displayed.

Last review date: August 2017