AccountingWEB’s resident anti-money laundering expert David Winch offered a useful warning to practitioners not to neglect their client lists on the HMRC agent portal.
As part of the tax department’s embryonic agent strategy, HMRC now compiles agent and client statistics (A&CS) on their filing, payment and compliance behaviour. This information will be used to assess agents, so that HMRC can “target support” to encourage good practice.
Theagent strategy is progressing slowly, partly due to the profession’s resistance to what looks increasingly like official regulation. But HMRC is already applying the philosophy, Winch told.
“I went to the HMRC stand with some trepidation and had a chat about what they feel about accountants,” Winch said in an interview with AccountingWEB at the Accountex event (see video below).
HMRC has noticed that a number of accountants have clients on their online lists for whom the agents no longer act. If those clients have gone elsewhere and subsequently submitted tax returns with more extravagant claims for expenses, those figures will be logged on the original agent’s statistics and could flag them as someone who’s making inflated claims, Winch explained.
“If you’ve got a client who has gone down the pub and gone elsewhere, do take them off your list. That will improve your statistics and may avoid contacts from HMRC you don’t really want,” he said.