HMRC refuses to give pay details to tax agents

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Rebecca Cave
Tax Writer
Taxwriter Ltd
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From 1 May 2017 HMRC will change its practice of confirming individual pay and tax details to tax agents, who ask for this information over the phone. 

Pay information

When you ring HMRC to ask for the pay and tax details of a client, you expect to be given that information, if you are authorised to act for the taxpayer you are asking about. From 1 May HMRC won’t give you that information, even if you are authorised to act. HMRC will instead send the information in a letter to the taxpayer, at his last known address, but they won’t send a copy of this letter to you.

Why?

HMRC says this change is to reduce call handling costs and to increase security for taxpayers. HMRC receives 2.7 million requests by phone for taxpayer pay and tax details each year, and not just for employed taxpayers who are within self assessment. A good deal of those calls are from high volume repayment agents, but many are not.

The security concerns are due to callers impersonating the taxpayer. There are also instances where the taxpayer is not aware they have signed an authorisation form 64-8 and/or a deed of assignment for tax repayments.

Unrepresented

When the taxpayer contacts HMRC, they will be given the requested details over the phone, or be directed to access their personal digital tax account. This does beg the question as whether this change in practice breaks the spirit of Your Charter (the taxpayers’ charter), which says at point 1.5:

“We’ll respect your wish to have someone else deal with us on your behalf, such as an accountant or a relative. To protect your privacy, we’ll only deal with them if they have been authorised to represent you, and we’ll deal with them courteously and professionally.”

Under the new practice, even where the agent is authorised to act, that agent will not be able to deal with HMRC on the taxpayer’s behalf.

Communication

From 1 May there will be a short recorded message on the Agent Dedicated Line (0300 200 3311) to explain the new procedure. HMRC will also write to 5,000 agents notifying them of the change, and will announce the new practice in the next edition of Agent Update

Digital solution

From late summer 2017 HMRC expects to have a digital solution in place to allow authorised tax agents to access pay and tax details for clients, without making a phone call. It’s not clear if this solution will be available to all tax agents, or if the agent will first have to pass a new security clearance to access the data.

HMRC has said that all new data access solutions will only be provided as APIs, as described by Matt Bailey in his article on Tax return pre-population data.

Replies

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21st Apr 2017 09:25

Just what I predicted (to myself!) a few days ago.
HMRC really do not want us dealing with their 'customers'.
They are making it increasingly difficult for agents and I suspect this will make many agents just give up and sign up for benefits!
Probably end up with same amount of income and no stress if they do! (if watching all these Benefit Programmes on TV are anything to go by!)
So no gain whatsoever for the gov.uk!

Thanks (25)
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By chatman
to MM Bookkeeping Services
24th Apr 2017 20:39

MM Bookkeeping Services wrote:
Probably end up with same amount of income and no stress if they do! (if watching all these Benefit Programmes on TV are anything to go by!)

They are not anything to go by. If you want to know what life on benefits is like, watch the Ken Loach film, I, Daniel Blake.

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21st Apr 2017 09:41

The reason HMRC don't want to deal with us is because we know what we are talking about and can challenge them when they are wrong, whilst the average taxpayer in the street doesn't have the knowledge to know a challenge is in order.

More dosh for the Treasury, even if it's not collected legally. Hmmm. Should we be filing MLR reports against HMRC/HM Treasury?

Thanks (20)
21st Apr 2017 09:46

Hmm, that is incredibly unhelpful. So between May and October (and probably well beyond) we cant access pay details for clients, so as a result there will be a considerable rise in the number of corrections made by HMRC, especially for things like P11Ds.

Why cant the alternative methods be put in place BEFORE the current method is stopped.

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th Apr 2017 04:53

Because that would be sensible!

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th Apr 2017 04:53

Because that would be sensible!

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By JAADAMS
21st Apr 2017 10:00

I have never rung HMRC for this info so I'm not bothered but thx Rebecca for letting us know.
Why only send information to 5,000 agents? I suppose to those who have rung for the information over the past year or so? I was amazed at the number of calls though but its mostly high volume repayment agents - so what are they going to do now? They must ring for a reason. Will this affect their business? I dont suppose HMRC cares.

Thanks (3)
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By LJCASE
21st Apr 2017 10:08

On a separate linked matter - deeds of assignment for tax repayments - I thought HMRC weren't allowing repayments to agents anymore unless they received a repayment in the past.
Can someone point me in the direction of text about these 'deeds of arrangement' - a template maybe?

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By LJCASE
21st Apr 2017 10:08

On a separate linked matter - deeds of assignment for tax repayments - I thought HMRC weren't allowing repayments to agents anymore unless they received a repayment in the past.
Can someone point me in the direction of text about these 'deeds of arrangement' - a template maybe?

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21st Apr 2017 10:37

There's been a general and unhelpful dilution of how agents can access and generally assist their client's, over the last few years.
This comes at at time when client's present more and more "health" related difficulties, either specifically related to old age or, more often these days, through mental health conditions. It's particularly ironic that, only this week, the BBC is broadcasting programmes related to these issues, even featuring members of the Royal Family. Odd, isn't it, that HMRC NEVER follow expected trends just persistently and, quite doggedly, get it wrong.
In a recent conversation with one of the complaints team, I was contradicted, when I spoke from a legislative perspective that my comments didn't reflect HMRC "guidelines"!
Oh dear, as they say in the courts, "I rest my case".
In my (humble) opinion HMRC is now a disgraceful shadow of the department, which it once was and, until serious and sustained challenges are made, to some of its "authority" the general standards will persist in a downward spiral.

Thanks (18)
21st Apr 2017 11:17

If it is call costs that they are worried about then I would happily use a premium rate number to get this info. This would still be far more efficient. If incorrect returns are filed then it wastes everybody's time if they have to open enquiries needlessly.

Thanks (5)
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21st Apr 2017 12:44

maybe I'm missing something but how will this save costs?

now we phone up and get the info, job done a matter of minutes

with the change we'll phone up, request the info and HMRC will then have to post it out.....surely increasing costs, not saving them

how does this fit in with Hammond's statement that British businesses arent as efficient as EU ones and we have more red tape.....lets add a bit more and make things even worse

Another shining example of HMRC taking a system that works well and flushing it down the toilet, seriously which TWONK is getting paid to make these decisions? I'd like his job, seems to be money for nothing!

Thanks (11)
21st Apr 2017 13:26

Seems a bit harsh but then in 30 years in general practice not once have I rung HMRC to request this information!

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By CazzyT
to paulgrca.net
21st Apr 2017 13:47

I would like some clients similar to yours.
Mine are incapable of retaining paperwork, including P60s which are clearly important and we often end up requesting this way.
The bigger issue is, as stated above someone has appointed us to represent them and we will no longer be allowed to.
HMRC is indeed a shadow of its former self and worse is yet to come.

Thanks (10)
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to CazzyT
21st Apr 2017 15:04

As I get older (now very old!) I have become less and less tolerant (now intolerant!) with clients with the "silly me, I am hopeless with paperwork, giggle" attitude.

My view is that they are grown ups running a business or in a senior role, so just get a shoebox and put all the HMRC stuff, payslips, tax certs etc into it. How hard can it be!

Piecing together tax return info is so time consuming, so when the indolent client is surprised by the size of the bill for "it's just a simple tax return" I get very cross!

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By DJKL
to Vaughan Blake1
22nd Apr 2017 00:41

I have just sorted one where two part time employments were not advised to me when the return was completed and HMRC raised an enquiry. On the plus point I then discovered similar for the following year (still in time for amendment) and managed to settle matters with one letter and an amended 2015/2016 return, the letter was remarkably quickly answered. However I know the client continued into 2016/2017 with PT work but all she has is a few payslips, she finished in Sept/Oct 2016, so I asked HMRC in my letter if they could confirm the earnings 2016/2017 were per the last payslip cumulative she holds, I quoted the figures. Needless to say their response re the 2014/2015 omission did not answer this question, so I now know I am likely going to have to ask her to see if her ex employer can provide any information- much simpler than chasing HMRC again it appears.

The exercise gt me thinking about having large sticky labels printed for my firm with a list of the sorts of things it would be good if they retained with the idea of giving each client a wallet folder with such a sticker on the fly leaf (I happen to have a couple of boxes of the wallets) to store all the paperwork not within their accounts as the year progresses.

Whilst I have not as yet initiated such a practice it may be useful, even after MTD hits, as I will hopefully then have the ability not to merely rely on HMRC pre populated data.

Besides, it seems employment data will not get updated onto accounts by HMRC until well after the end of each tax year if the blog on here is accurate. (which I have no reason to believe it is not)

Also, if I emblazon the stick on labels with firm details it may generate the odd bit of business if my clients on occasion have these in view of others.

Thanks (1)
to DJKL
24th Apr 2017 14:02

DJKL wrote:

The exercise gt me thinking about having large sticky labels printed for my firm with a list of the sorts of things it would be good if they retained with the idea of giving each client a wallet folder with such a sticker on the fly leaf (I happen to have a couple of boxes of the wallets) to store all the paperwork not within their accounts as the year progresses.

This does of course presume that HMRC still maintain paper files, which I very much doubt

DJKL wrote:

Whilst I have not as yet initiated such a practice it may be useful, even after MTD hits, as I will hopefully then have the ability not to merely rely on HMRC pre populated data.

Besides, it seems employment data will not get updated onto accounts by HMRC until well after the end of each tax year if the blog on here is accurate. (which I have no reason to believe it is not)


Last year the Class 1 details for Class 4 purposes had made their way from the NIC system to the SA system by October.

Shame HMRC still (apparently) have 4 different systems failing to talk to each other. One would have thought that if the information arrives under RTI, and is visible to HMRC almost immediately, that it ought not be beyond the wit of programmers to have it onto the taxpayer record, and available to pre-populate the return, pretty much straight away.

Thanks (1)
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By MJShone
to Vaughan Blake1
24th Apr 2017 14:53

I think we must be a similar age.....

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to paulgrca.net
21st Apr 2017 14:42

I find it useful confirmation where:

1. The client is elderly or generally scatty
2. Multiple employments or pensions in the year
3. You have payslips and not P60s
4. Client is a muppet and not supplied any data

Probably only 1 or 2 out of 10 we call up on are wrong, but I tend to prefer getting it right first time vs going around the block with HMRC on an aggressive change to the return. Its gone from a simply correction to a full blown tax investigation in some instances.

Its fair enough if HMRC are fed up with supplying this data - they could just make it appear on the agent screen and it would save a lot of bother. The problem with API's is having the software to read the data.

Thanks (6)
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to paulgrca.net
21st Apr 2017 15:26

In fairness I do this for one client who works in the film industry for fortnightly spells with many employers. Some of the film companies are a little 'happy go lucky' with their payrolls and some are super efficient. Throw in student loan repayments and it all ends in a muddle.

Sometimes he returns to the same employer two or three times during the same year, some overlap, sometimes there is a gap. We have payslips, P45s & P60s a plenty, but tying it all up is a nightmare, so checking what went to HMRC is most helpful.

It sounds like the pre-population of the tax returns should resolve this though.

Thanks (2)
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to Vaughan Blake1
21st Apr 2017 15:41

Exactly pre population is the way to go and should end this problem. i would never ask HMRC for details I tell the client to get it, end of

Thanks (2)
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21st Apr 2017 14:35

I just get them to ask their existing or old employer much quicker... Only in liquidation do you need to bother them.

Its a barrier to try to cut down on call handling so some redundancies can be made to save some money so they can reduce the rate of corporation tax to 18.5%

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21st Apr 2017 16:24

honestly, what planet are HMRC on.

Thanks (2)
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By RobertD
21st Apr 2017 17:36

If HMRC have security concerns about agent impersonating taxpayers perhaps they shouldn't answer the phone at all.

That would suit them just fine.

HMRC are becoming a nasty piece of work

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to RobertD
25th Apr 2017 05:02

How do HMR&C know that a caller is or has impersonated a taxpayer?
Do they ask in the security questions - are you an impersonator?
They are as you say now very very weird?

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21st Apr 2017 18:57

Are we going to have go through API code authorisation for each API for each client? So, 5 plus extra generated codes per client?

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to Kaylee100
24th Apr 2017 12:31

No, 2SV only applies every 18 months or when you add a new service.

If you use more than one set of software, you may have to do it for each.

No relation to the number of clients, 1 or 1000, just as many 2SV's

Thanks (1)
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By Briar
21st Apr 2017 23:09

It has been very useful to get P60 details from HMRC where laggardly clients have lost the information and it is the last week of January. I have even thanked them profusely for the information (which I don't do very often on other matters).

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22nd Apr 2017 08:53

That's ok, when DMU ring up next asking me to get a client to ring them, or HMRC ring up asking if I have an up to date address for a client, I will say I no longer provide that service

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to SpreadsheetUser
24th Apr 2017 09:20

I must be ahead of the game, I have been saying to them for years, I do not provide that service!

Thanks (3)
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By djames
to SpreadsheetUser
24th Apr 2017 10:19

I've been doing that for a few years. If HMRC are not helpful to me, why should I be helpful to them. I do not answer the phone any longer to HMRC, my receptionist just tells them I'm too busy, put it in writing.

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to djames
24th Apr 2017 10:45

Don't forget that if HMRC call you, you MUST make them answer your security questions before you may speak to them about a client's affairs.

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to djames
25th Apr 2017 05:05

Agreed - after being told lies and my clients being lied to by both DMB and HMRC I NEVER take any phone calls from them...My letters all state that and any questions must be put in writing.
What a farce they have become!

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24th Apr 2017 10:11

Tax doesn't have to be taxing?
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

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24th Apr 2017 10:16

and as for getting clients tax repayments paid to the agent that should be stopped altogether

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24th Apr 2017 10:19

asbolute joke!!!!

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24th Apr 2017 10:19

absolute joke!!!!

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24th Apr 2017 10:20

Whilst not a regular user of this "service" I have recently had occasion to contact HMRC in response to an aspect enquiry on a particular client's tax return. The Tax Executive who had written to me in the first instance had raised a question relating to PAYE income & tax deduction as declared. I had the client's P60 in front of me on my desk which presumably for some reason did not tie up with information HMRC had from the employer but when I phoned, I was told that they would not discuss it with me as it was taxpayer information. I laughably said " In which case please don't write to an agent to ask questions if you are unwilling to discuss the response" The numpty on the phone then said " In which case do you want to cancel the 64-8?" A few respondents seem to concur with the view that HMRC prefer to deal with customers directly because they can challenge them without fear of contradiction.

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By Ammie
24th Apr 2017 10:29

Nice simplification move!

Thanks (1)
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By SXGuy
24th Apr 2017 10:33

And for the life of me I can not understand why in this day and age hmrc cant confirm an agent status simply by supplying an agent code that they themselves have issued and only we would know.

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24th Apr 2017 10:34

HMRC are guilty, yet again, of a lack of joined-up thinking. In future, all agents will need to have signed up to MTD for Agents (a relatively simple process from what I saw on an HMRC webinar recently) and this will provide agents with all of the information that they should require via an API to their commercial software of choice.

I am all in favour of that as it will, indeed, dramatically reduce the number of calls that we agents will need to make to HMRC as we should then have access to exactly the same information about our clients that HMRC staff have.

However, we DO NOT YET have this access. What part of HMRC thinks that it is acceptable to announce a new, efficient system and then, before it has even been beta tested (let alone launched to all agents) withdraw the previous system that agents have relied on for years?

It's like the rest of their MTD proposals. The principle is a good one: it will pre-fill taxpayers tax returns with data already held by HMRC and allow taxpayers or their agents to update HMRC records throughout the year with any additional information via a commercial third party software provider (so that we can choose the system that we prefer). But then HMRC add on a wholly unnecessary and hugely burdensome and costly requirement for all but the very smallest businesses and landlords to make up to 5 (or is it 6?) filings a year of business data that will require more work than is currently required even for VAT-registered businesses, and to do so within a tighter time-frame than is required for VAT returns.

HMRC need to learn that they should roll out their new systems, then see how well they work in practice, then seek feedback from the profession and only then consider closing down the previous systems. Are we no longer "working together"? Do HMRC really not care what the profession think?

Thanks (12)
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24th Apr 2017 10:57

Why can't HMRC make its flaming mind up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks (1)
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to leon0001
24th Apr 2017 11:26

Chaos... As you say if they made up their mind that would help. It seems we have changed access rights and systems every other week to get the information we need, with no warning. Without Accounting web I wouldn't have known about this one. It's only 2 or 3 a year I ask for for elderly/confused clients but why should we have to fight to get the information HMRC already have to put it onto a form to send to HMRC....

Also, are notices of coding still being updated to the agent online system or have they given that idea up as well? I've spotted a few already where they are missing...?

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24th Apr 2017 11:49

I use this service not infrequently. It only takes one or two minutes to get the information using the agent helpline. I never have to wait for the phone to be answered but if clients have to ring HMRC most will give up after 20 minutes waiting. The first response from many of those who do get through will be "hang on I will see if I've got my UTR somewhere". How's this going to save time for me, the client or HMRC.
And if security is the issue can I not throw this back at HMRC and say that as a result of the constant reports of hacking into the computers of some of the biggest and most security conscious organisations in the world none of my clients intend to report anything digitally (even if they could).
The truth is that whoever has thought up this idea isn't aware of what else is going on in HMRC otherwise they would have simply waited until the new technology takes over and we don't have to phone up for the details. Simple or what - doh!

Thanks (1)
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24th Apr 2017 11:59

This is in fact a reversion to previous practice. Until a year or so ago, they would not give information out (that they already held) with the snotty response "it is up to your client to retain and supply you with this information".

Then they started to be helpful and I suppose it has increased the number of calls - I have certainly taken full advantage to deal with dopey clients. So to an extent I can see the point.

But as others have said, it is the cart before the horse. Logging in to my own Personal Tax Account I can see the data I have supplied about myself via RTI about salary, but logging in as an agent for myself I cannot see it. Why no upgrade to AOSS?

IF ONLY HMRC valued agents, they would get a dividend in co-operation - we all have the same end. This latest move just comes across as petty and spiteful

Thanks (1)
24th Apr 2017 11:59

If HMRC can give the figures over the phone to the taxpayer, why is it a security risk or more costly to give the figures to the agent?
HMRC won't switch the API on until at least July so surely the existing arrangement should remain in place until then.

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24th Apr 2017 12:16

Pathetic , asking clients Paye income from HMRC was ideal, it was accurate, time effective and efficient.

Everything's getting that little bit harder.

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24th Apr 2017 12:34

The latest stage in HMRC's ''Working Together''.
Or perhaps only Tom and Dick are left in the Revenue to provide such details ?

Thanks (1)
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24th Apr 2017 13:54

They could spend the free time they'll have from not taking calls for this to, oh I don't know, fixing the complete [***] up they've made with the tax return software for the current tax year. I suspect this is another reason for getting agents to use third party software....

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24th Apr 2017 14:58

It is more than pay and tax details. I've taken on a new client who commenced self-employment some years ago and never filed a tax return. I wanted to check the self-employment commencement date on HMRC's records. I waited until the 64-8 was in place and phoned HMRC SA. I was told SA no longer have that information and I'd need to speak with NICO. I phoned NICO who said they no longer give that information over the phone to agents and only send it by post to the taxpayer.

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