Agents locked out of business accounts

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HMRC re-iterated that the renamed 'Your tax account for business' (YTA) will not be available for tax agents to see or use.

HMRC confirmed in a webinar last week that only one access per business is allowed for security reasons. So the old trick of shadowing the taxpayer won’t be available either.

Instead, the tax authority said, accountants will use agent online self-serve (AOSS). Although, frustratingly, it failed to give a satisfactory answer to agent questions around AOSS, specifically in regards to launch dates, during the presentation.

HMRC acknowledged the need to give agents access in parallel with the roll-out of the YTA. HMRC said, however, that it did not want to delay roll-out of the YTA and they gave no indication about when it will work for all tax agents. 

AOSS is currently only available to agents with less than 200 clients within each tax and only PAYE payments and liabilities are visible to agents. This effectively restricts it to one person accountancy firms.

This will not alleviate fears that Making Tax Digital (MTD) will sideline accountants.

Critics in parliament

Agents’ reaction to Making Tax Digital has been notably fractious. Subsequently, the debate in Westminster has also grown increasingly heated as the government’s grand digital reveal in 2018 edges closer.

Head of the Treasury Select Committee Andrew Tyrie was the latest to admonish government in a recent skirmish with David Gauke.

Tyrie said it would be unacceptable if companies had to purchase hardware just to meet the new digital tax obligations. He also cautioned Gauke about the fast pace of MTD’s rollout.

“For the vast majority of businesses and many individuals, [MTD] may be a sensible direction of travel. But there are some - for example, those who do not currently use computers or for whom quarterly reporting would be a substantial burden - who understandably remain very concerned about these proposals.

“The requirement for all businesses to maintain a digital tax account needs to be tempered by provisions for those for whom this would be an unreasonable burden.”

Many critics have pleaded with government not to make MTD mandatory, at least initially. Gauke parried this suggestion in his appearance before the Treasury Select Committee. Gauke told the committee that the new policy would only achieve a fraction of its potential gains if it was not mandatory. “Some £6.5bn is lost each year as a result of errors made by businesses, and I make no apology for seeking to tackle that.”

Replies

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This truly is bizarre. I have 250 SA clients (and another 50 or do when the basic rate director's need to also do tax returns), so either I set up another second agent ID or I cant use AOSS - if and when it arrives.

So what exactly do we do again to stay in business?

or anyone bigger than a part time practice?

 

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08th Mar 2016 09:51

AOSS should be expanded to all tax agents

The current restrictions on AOSS for agents with up to 200 clients in each tax, is only for the pilot version of this service, and the full version should be availalbe to all tax agents - with any number of clients. Snag is - HMRC won't say when AOSS will be expanded to include all tax agents

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08th Mar 2016 10:53

Surely - if by way of agreement with our clients - they give us access to their online accounts - what can HMRC legally do? Surely a tax payer has a legal right to be able to delegate the access etc to an agent. Can HMRC really punish agents for this? What if I get a 75 year old client who has never used a PC and requires us to set this up for him? Are we not allowed to? It's madness.

HMRC civil servants are not fit for purpose. Every civil service employee should have to spend two months a year working with the people they supposedly serve. So HMRC employees within practice and industry, small businesses, etc..they would quickly understand what is and isn't possible.

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By jonsa
08th Mar 2016 12:46

Take care Gary

Gary Stevens wrote:

Surely - if by way of agreement with our clients - they give us access to their online accounts - what can HMRC legally do? Surely a tax payer has a legal right to be able to delegate the access etc to an agent. Can HMRC really punish agents for this? What if I get a 75 year old client who has never used a PC and requires us to set this up for him? Are we not allowed to? It's madness.

HMRC civil servants are not fit for purpose. Every civil service employee should have to spend two months a year working with the people they supposedly serve. So HMRC employees within practice and industry, small businesses, etc..they would quickly understand what is and isn't possible.

The Revenue know where you are logging in from and that you are an agent.  They have already said that if you log in as a client from your agent's computer, you could be considered a security problem and locked out of the agents system too.

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09th Mar 2016 15:16

they do not have clue. they are messing with a system and have no idea what  the effect is. they will not listen. they are rushing forward to mess up the tax system and bring it to a standstill - it is a pending disaster / crisis

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By DJKL
09th Mar 2016 17:31

But on the positive side

steve 12321 wrote:

they do not have clue. they are messing with a system and have no idea what  the effect is. they will not listen. they are rushing forward to mess up the tax system and bring it to a standstill - it is a pending disaster / crisis

But on the positive side companies like my son's employer, who already land lots of lucrative government contracts (software development/implementation etc) ,will be racking up the profits-staff bonus time beckons by the sound of it  (he may even  treat us to a meal out) ; remember, "always look on the bright side of life.........."

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08th Mar 2016 11:27

AOSS - is it worth applying for?

I always hate applying for new HMRC stuff in case it puts me in a worse situation than I was in before and I'm not allowed back to the old system.

As a sole practitioner with well under 200 clients I would qualify.

Is it a good idea apply or not?

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By derek44
08th Mar 2016 11:28

Agents

So I am a Deputy for my mother's affairs appointed by the court by the Office of the Public Guardian. Am I to be locked-out too?.

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08th Mar 2016 12:06

Gauke out of touch with reality

Having had my MP in correspondence with Gauke on the changes to buy to lets and reading his replies, this latest farce about agents not being able to check client's tax accounts comes as no great surprise.

I'm looking forward to saying to clients that I cannot access the systems we need to be able to in order to check their tax affairs.  Then when it all goes wrong and HMRC try issuing fines or penalties, taking this as a reasonable excuse in front of the Tribunals and see what they make of it.

He seems to think everyone uses cloud accounting software and every deduction and claim is all done automatically and HMRC never make mistakes and every business is run electronically, so quarterly accounting will all be press of a button and no one needs accountants or tax advisors at all...

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08th Mar 2016 12:49

There is a way

I have said for years that HMRC is a law unto themselves. The only way to make HMRC cooperate on a partnership basis is refuse to submit anything electronically that can be submitted on paper. The effect of accountants working together as a group and swamping HMRC with paper would be to make them see sense and talk to a representative of the group. The Institutes have no interest in supporting their members but perhaps the ICPA could coordinate such an event?

 

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08th Mar 2016 12:52

Jonsa - yes I read about that before. We only really use client logins to check for VAT & PAYE payments and don't think we've ever needed to for Personal Tax. However, sometimes clients share one HMRC online login for business (VAT, PAYE, CT) and Personal Tax - which I guess would mean we fall foul of these HMRC checks? I wonder what the motivation is behind this? It seems like they are intentionally making lives of agents difficult. How are we supposed to do our work properly?

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08th Mar 2016 13:57

VPN

could you log-in to each clients record routed through a VPN to appear as coming from a different IP address? 

 

I'm certain you could work around it, should you be so inclined.

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08th Mar 2016 14:01

It seems obvious.

The fact is that HMRC would love every taxpayer to be unrepresented so that they can be fleeced and that is what they seem to be working towards. 

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By jonsa
08th Mar 2016 14:18

HMRC want unreprsented taxpayers

The tired accountant wrote:

The fact is that HMRC would love every taxpayer to be unrepresented so that they can be fleeced and that is what they seem to be working towards. 

Exactly.  I have been saying this for some time.  They can bully the taxpayers for much more in taxes without us to help them.

Jonathan

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08th Mar 2016 15:11

David Gauke

So David Gauke is saying £6.5bn is lost because of errors made by businesses. Sounds similar to what HMRC were saying when they introduced Business Record Checks. Yet it's not that long since HMRC were forced to stop Business Record Checks, because they were just not finding the level of errors that they said were there.

Where is Mr Gauke getting these figures from?

Forcing businesses to go down this digital route, without the involvement of agents will surely only increase the risk of incorrect submissions.

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By JAADAMS
08th Mar 2016 18:44

This you should read....

http://www.ion.icaew.com/TaxFaculty/post/The-move-to-digital-and-mandati...

at the bottom of the article is shown a diary of supposed implementation dates.

 

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09th Mar 2016 18:38

Info needed
Can they explain how I can calculate my own tax, my businesses' tax and clients tax including complicated set ups (not for any sinister reasons) Etc four times a year without doing exactly all the things that are currently done once a year when preparing my accounts and tax returns. And can they explain how that will not interupt my businesses and my clients businesses and not cost them more money? No they bloody can't can they!!!! And we are still waiting for the calculations behind the £6.5b lost in tax doing it the way it is now either - or I am. Has anyone got the link to the calculations and evidence? No -otherwise they would be going after it with their compliance checks surely! HMRC and the government are out of control dictators. This is just not needed. Being payments on account forward. Reduce rhe burdens. Don't increase them and say they will make it easier.

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09th Mar 2016 20:46

Clients reactions
Clients are reacting with disbelief at this. How can I defend the indefensible ? Anyway, i will help them find a new accountant if they can (soon) (read sell them) as I darsay there will be massive issues coming up as the profession will be unable to support everyone and suport they will need as they will be unable to do this themselves and get it right, that's why they have us. . I am not able to make my business work under the forthcoming changes without hugely increasing my clients costs. Maybe I am too old and out of touch at 46. I will need to employ someone part time to ensure I can attempt to prepare 4 sets of accurate accounts and tax returns for my businesses each year - despite what they say - we all know the truth don't we??
I wish labour would get electable and they can focus on fair taxes for a start for the many employers (self employed) and making it a country that supports business and landlords even who provide housing. Maybe we need the emergence of an new Politial party.

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By NYB
10th Mar 2016 12:41

Money Making Exercise
The last para in the report says it all. It is just a money making exercise. That Gauke is objectionable in all ways. Talk about reducing the burden of bureaucracy that was supposed to be happening.

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10th Mar 2016 17:46

Time to
Start seeing these mp bods and discussing this nonsense in person everyone. Let me know how it goes

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By NDK
10th Mar 2016 19:49

Setting up Accounts for new businesses
I think I've understood the comments above but if someone could confirm please.

I set up the HMRC accounts for customers at the moment and apply for all relevant taxes & online on their behalf.

As I complete this from my location will HMRC now suspect my clients of being a security risk when they attempt to login and therefore lock them out?

TIA

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By jonsa
14th Mar 2016 15:55

Security risk

NDK wrote:
I think I've understood the comments above but if someone could confirm please. I set up the HMRC accounts for customers at the moment and apply for all relevant taxes & online on their behalf. As I complete this from my location will HMRC now suspect my clients of being a security risk when they attempt to login and therefore lock them out? TIA

Yes, they are saying you could be a security risk, as clients should set themselves up on their own computer, not you.  You can register as their agent and the limited access you get is all there is till the Revenue eventually catch up for us agents.  Where the line is drawn no one knows, except the Revenue - well we hope they do.  Logging in as one client once may well be OK, but is ten times OK?

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By NDK
14th Mar 2016 16:31

Security Risk

jonsa wrote:

NDK wrote:
I think I've understood the comments above but if someone could confirm please. I set up the HMRC accounts for customers at the moment and apply for all relevant taxes & online on their behalf. As I complete this from my location will HMRC now suspect my clients of being a security risk when they attempt to login and therefore lock them out? TIA

Yes, they are saying you could be a security risk, as clients should set themselves up on their own computer, not you.  You can register as their agent and the limited access you get is all there is till the Revenue eventually catch up for us agents.  Where the line is drawn no one knows, except the Revenue - well we hope they do.  Logging in as one client once may well be OK, but is ten times OK?

Thanks for that, I setup new companies as part of the service, but I guess we will now need to either provide a aide memoir, or guide them through in person or via a web chat. I guess this also means a client would encounter issues if they registered on a laptop, and then tried to access via a different computer, tablet or phone?

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By jonsa
14th Mar 2016 17:49

Devices

NDK wrote:

jonsa wrote:

NDK wrote:
I think I've understood the comments above but if someone could confirm please. I set up the HMRC accounts for customers at the moment and apply for all relevant taxes & online on their behalf. As I complete this from my location will HMRC now suspect my clients of being a security risk when they attempt to login and therefore lock them out? TIA

Yes, they are saying you could be a security risk, as clients should set themselves up on their own computer, not you.  You can register as their agent and the limited access you get is all there is till the Revenue eventually catch up for us agents.  Where the line is drawn no one knows, except the Revenue - well we hope they do.  Logging in as one client once may well be OK, but is ten times OK?

Thanks for that, I setup new companies as part of the service, but I guess we will now need to either provide a aide memoir, or guide them through in person or via a web chat. I guess this also means a client would encounter issues if they registered on a laptop, and then tried to access via a different computer, tablet or phone?

For client it would be ok with different devices, as they would not be logging in as other clients or as an agent.

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What if I invite clients to my office so I can guide them through the process on a PC there? Or even give them regular access through a PC I make available? HMRC will think I am logging in as agent and client? Should I be penalised for the type and level of service I offer?

If I am locked out as an agent can I not submit returns for any tax? I suppose at least I get my Christmas back - but I'll have no clients so nothing to spend!!

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What if I invite clients to my office so I can guide them through the process on a PC there? Or even give them regular access through a PC I make available? HMRC will think I am logging in as agent and client? Should I be penalised for the type and level of service I offer?

If I am locked out as an agent can I not submit returns for any tax? I suppose at least I get my Christmas back - but I'll have no clients so nothing to spend!!

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