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Firm filing tax returns without client approval

Non-regulated firm filing tax return for a client without her approval or clearance

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A client of mine recently invested in a business as a non-exec shareholder, which was represented by a firm who I believe are unregulated. They list an ICAEW firm as an "associate" but don't appear to be ICAEW themselves.

I was appalled to discover that they had gone off and filed a 2020 personal tax return for her without her knowledge/consent. She has expressed this in writing. It is wrong of course because they didn't bother writing to us for professional clearance and they set the business address as her home address so she has confirmed that she didn't see anything.

They emailed me today - fairly flippantly - to say that there was some confusion and they attached the "approval" letter that went with the return - to the wrong address of course.

The last sentence on the letter is "can you send an email back to approve your tax return. If we do not get a response within 14 days we will file this tax return".

The tax return includes a legal statement by the taxpayer but clearly, this policy means they are filing tax returns in people's names without their knowledge or permission - especially if they send it to the wrong address.

What can I do about this? My client's position has been compromised but filing an unapproved tax return is surely illegal? Is there an HMRC contact? Money laundering report?

Frankly, I'm getting a bit fed up with the behaviour of unregulated accountants. I know it's unfair to tar all with the same brush, but the really bad firms seem to be unreg'd in this way as there's no comeback...

Replies (56)

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
25th Jan 2021 17:28

You could report them to HMRC who might look into their agent status, or at least write to SA stating that a return was submitted by a different agent without client approval (thereby making a false declaration that the client has given approval).

But the intruiging question is, from where did this outfit get the client's income details?

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By norstar
25th Jan 2021 17:44

They've just included the dividend from the company that they are the agents for. They've just assumed that there wasn't anything else...

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By Matrix
25th Jan 2021 17:41

How did they get her UTR?

Do you know if the return is correct or not?

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Replying to Matrix:
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By norstar
25th Jan 2021 17:47

Good question. I suspect that my client gave it to them as they asked for it and she didn't know any better. As to is it correct - hell no. They've literally included one dividend for March 2020 and nothing else. There's a load of other info to include which I did on the return I prepared using the full info I was given. They even listed her home address as the business address. It understates her income/gains by over £50,000.

Apart from that...

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Replying to norstar:
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By Matrix
25th Jan 2021 17:51

OMG. I don’t understand why they are filing her tax return if she is a shareholder. Maybe a Director but she should still have signed an engagement letter.

Has she asked for a copy of her instruction to them? Have they billed her?

I have no idea but I would try and get the return withdrawn for a start.

I assume you can file an amended return to supersede though.

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Replying to Matrix:
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By norstar
25th Jan 2021 18:15

Sorry I should have said, she is a director of the company. Not convinced this lot know what an engagement letter is but she has no knowledge of one and I've asked for a copy from them in case they reckon there is one....

No bill. I planned to switch the tag to "amended" but I'm just furious that other firms act like this with apparent impunity.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
25th Jan 2021 18:01

First and foremost, the client needs to dissociate herself from this fraudulent return.

Secondly, you need to ascertain how this was possible. The client has presumably passed on her UTR and I can understand that it's possible that this was legitimately required for some reason or other, but how did they get authority to file ?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By norstar
25th Jan 2021 18:12

They didn't get authority. That's the issue. They've filed using agent software directly with HMRC, using her tax reference. She has told me in writing that she didn't see anything and they told her they could do her return but that she had confirmed to them that I am her personal accountant so I would continue looking after her. Obviously with agent software you can file directly...

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By adam.arca
25th Jan 2021 18:18

Before everyone jumps off the deep end...

We’ve surely all come across “accountants” who do things one way only because it was the way they were taught. Everything is done by rote like a recipe because they don’t necessarily understand what they are doing.

You say that submitting the return without approval should be illegal. That would surely depend on the contract (assuming there is one). And just for context, the CHARTERED firm I joined after qualifying also ran an implied consent system very similar to these accountants. Granted, that was 30 years ago and times have changed but it really wasn’t that uncommon in the past and perhaps these accountants haven’t moved with the times.

By the sounds of it, the return is hopelessly wrong and needs correcting but I would doubt very much that it’s fraudulent. Would there not have to be an intention to deceive?

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Replying to adam.arca:
RLI
By lionofludesch
25th Jan 2021 18:27

adam.arca wrote:

By the sounds of it, the return is hopelessly wrong and needs correcting but I would doubt very much that it’s fraudulent. Would there not have to be an intention to deceive?

There is if the matter is allowed to lie.

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Replying to adam.arca:
By Paul D Utherone
25th Jan 2021 18:28

Maybe not fraudulent, but definitely incorrect if it's missing £50k of income, so leaving the client potentially open to penalties for an incorrect return.

I think in the circumstances I would be wanting to make abundantly clear to HMRC that the original return was submitted by the other 'agent' without review or approval to submit by the client to try to nip any penalty charge in the bud.

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Replying to adam.arca:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
25th Jan 2021 18:37

HMRC says:

"How do I show my client's agreement to their online return?
If you're an agent sending a tax return on behalf of your client, the tax return must include a declaration to show that your client has agreed that the information is correct and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief.
Make a copy (electronic or paper) of the return or amendment information including any supplementary pages completed and any attachments to be transmitted and send it to your client
Ask your client for confirmation in writing that the information is correct and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief. Your client can give their written confirmation in electronic or non-electronic form.
HM Revenue and Customs recommends that agents remind clients that completion of nomination details in the return to enable a repayment to be sent to a bank, building society or other nominee will be taken to be their formal approval of the nomination.
Agents can print a copy of the information submitted online for their own records.
All returns submitted by agents on behalf of clients must include the following declaration:
"I confirm that my client has received a copy of the information contained in this return and approved the information as being correct and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief.""

So the question is, what is the sanction for filing without client approval?

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Gone Sailing
26th Jan 2021 19:48

Quite so.

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Replying to adam.arca:
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By 0098087
29th Jan 2021 09:55

Even 30 years ago previous firm would never file a return without them being signed. we would never sign it for the client. It's the same as I don't like tax refunds coming back to us rather than the client.
Now days we need the authority paper signed or via docusign. No implied consent.
All signed forms are then scanned in and retained via Accountancy Manager.

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By SXGuy
25th Jan 2021 19:04

You're right. It is taring us with the same brush. Oh wait that wasnt the question...

There are plenty of registered firms who also get it wrong.

Clear example is a now ex client of mine who moved to HK and has HK employment but had UK rental income. Informed me his in house accountants would be dealing with his TR from now on.

Then came back as they couldn't promise it would be filed on time and asked if I'd be able to do it. Then came back again and said its OK they have agreed to do it before the deadline.

3 days later he's emailing me asking about residence status for tax and if there's some form he needs to fill in.

I mean they should be dealing with this. Clearly they haven't and just filed God knows what.

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
25th Jan 2021 19:05

norstar wrote:

Frankly, I'm getting a bit fed up with the behaviour of unregulated accountants. I know it's unfair to tar all with the same brush, but the really bad firms seem to be unreg'd in this way as there's no comeback...

In the interests of balance I am fed up with the behaviour of regulated accountants and the record fines they are given usually for audit incompetence.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Gone Sailing
26th Jan 2021 19:50

I have yet to inherit a new client from an accountant, qualified in some way or not, where there wasn't a mess to sort out.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
02nd Feb 2021 15:12

A 'no names' story about filing.

Company A (our client) acquired Company B in June of 2015 (dates changed to protect the guilty).
Company A has June year end. Company B has March year end, but March 2015 not yet filed (though draft set prepared).
Company B becomes sub of Company A before year end of A. Consolidated accounts to be prepared etc.
Company B accountants are ICAEW.
We write to former accountants. Ask for professional clearance - given etc etc. Full reply received.
We discuss options with Company A, who want to extend year end for Company B to align. 15 month period to be done, audited as now part of medium group. Fine and dandy. We change year end at Companies House.

First week of 2016, client calls us. Why have we received demand for payment of tax for Company B? Have you filed return? Of course we hadn't. Audit of the group was still ongoing, including Company B.

Former accountants (ICAEW firm remember) had taken it upon themselves to file tax returns and comps with HMRC to March 2015. We suspect they had also sent a copy to CoHouse but it would've been rejected due to wrong dates.

We go balistic. Inform Client to ask what the hell former accountants playing at, as we want to use group relief, management charges etc to reduce tax and they've just completely messed the whole thing up.
Client, much to his discredit, simply asks and gets the reply that, "We thought we were still responsible for this period and filed in good faith to avoid filing penalties." What penalties? CT wasn't due till March 2016, and a check at Companies House would've shown the extended year end. Client drops the matter and we're then forced to pick up the pieces and need to split the period back between March 2015 and June 2015. We end up filing two periods in the end, the drafts given to us (unaudited), and a three month set. We'd done audit work on the 15 months, including transaction work which was all junked.

ICAEW firm. Filing accounts because they felt like it and had the online filing codes. What a shower.

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By Refs1
25th Jan 2021 19:23

Surely this a matter between the old accountants and the client. I learnt my lesson a long time ago to get involved between the two parties. I would correct the issue with client authority and move onto the next task. Unregulated or regulated seen good, bad and indifferent from both sides.

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By JD
25th Jan 2021 20:30

For balance I have had a chartered firm complete accounts and tax returns for one of mine, without requesting handover this year. In a previously life I have worked at a firm where they thought it was acceptable to file provisional returns without approval on mass to meet the filing deadline - in this case needless to say not any of my clients and I distanced myself very quickly. The issues you have is nothing to do with regulated or not.

Your clients return is wrong. I would suggest all you need to do is correct, with the clients approval of course. As others have noted it's up to the client if they wish to do anything to challenge this advisor.

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Replying to JD:
Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
02nd Feb 2021 15:16

An interesting point is that this other firm isn't an 'advisor'. They're just some random johnny.

If I got the code for a company, say, Tesco PLC, I could file all sorts of rubbish. Wouldn't make me the advisor.
Regrettably, that'd make any legal action in the realm of Tort rather than Contract so that's a laugh.

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By norstar
26th Jan 2021 10:28

As an update, here's the response I got from the accountant today:

We are a Top XXX UK Accounting Firm and we file over X,000 personal tax returns each year. On top of this we provide outsourcing services for over XXX UK Accounting firm across the UK. With the amount of submissions we make, waiting on everyone to reply, would be a nightmare and not practical.

This apparently is not a small scale operation who think that it's OK to file returns with the agent declaration "I confirm that my client has received a copy of the information contained in this return and approved the information as being correct and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief." when that isn't true.

What does everyone make of that?!

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Replying to norstar:
By Paul D Utherone
26th Jan 2021 11:00

Well it's a view. Not sure that it's one that my day job - who are also "a Top XXX UK Accounting Firm ... [who] file over X,000 personal tax returns each year" - would accept

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Replying to norstar:
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By 2003bluecat
26th Jan 2021 16:07

norstar wrote:

As an update, here's the response I got from the accountant today:

We are a Top XXX UK Accounting Firm and we file over X,000 personal tax returns each year. On top of this we provide outsourcing services for over XXX UK Accounting firm across the UK. With the amount of submissions we make, waiting on everyone to reply, would be a nightmare and not practical.

This apparently is not a small scale operation who think that it's OK to file returns with the agent declaration "I confirm that my client has received a copy of the information contained in this return and approved the information as being correct and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief." when that isn't true.

What does everyone make of that?!

If they aren't willing to wait for approval then what else aren't they willing to wait for? Presumably confirmation of engagement and income details by the sounds of it. I wonder what their PI underwriters would think should they ever be challenged over the submission of such a return without approval or even an engagement letter?

On a side note: we are unregulated and ensure that the tax return declaration is signed along with a covering letter which highlights the tax liability/refund, payments schedule and details the more common income sources that need to be included (might be overkill - but some/most will just sign the return without looking).

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Replying to norstar:
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By 0098087
29th Jan 2021 09:56

Sod that. I wait for a reply. Not a chance in hell do I file without them being signed.

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Replying to 0098087:
RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Jan 2021 10:19

0098087 wrote:

Sod that. I wait for a reply. Not a chance in hell do I file without them being signed.

And why would you ?

My advice to the client has always been "I'm not bothered if you're not".

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Replying to norstar:
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By JD
29th Jan 2021 10:04

....that seems to amount to I am bigger than you and don't really care about any basic standards.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to forward a copy of the email and your clients comments to their regulatory body and AML it to ensure you are covered.

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Replying to norstar:
Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
02nd Feb 2021 15:19

What number is XXX? 100? Because the top 20 are all regulated (ICAEW/ACCA). I can't think of anyone in the top 20 who isn't.

Or is XXX 999?

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Replying to thevaliant:
RLI
By lionofludesch
02nd Feb 2021 15:36

thevaliant wrote:

What number is XXX?

30.

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By Gone Sailing
26th Jan 2021 19:53

Under AML, there is no such thing as unregistered or unrelgulated:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/money-laundering-regulations-accountancy-ser...

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Replying to Gone Sailing:
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By norstar
27th Jan 2021 10:46

So this would involve an SAR then presumably.

PS: Really quite missing sailing at the moment!

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By SXGuy
29th Jan 2021 10:35

Just had a handover for a new client from our friendly tax assist people.

Client informs me he takes 7k dividends each year.

Is cis gross status.

Just looked at the previously filed tax returns and accounts.

Tax return has no dividends declared, accounts have an outstanding dla of around 18k and cis assets nominal of 17k.

When I explained about the outstanding dla and how we can clear it, he'd never had that chat before, never knew any divs had never been declared or taxed, doesn't know what the cis on the balance sheet is as he's gross.

And this is I presume qualified accountants or at the very least, overseen by one with a junior handling his affairs.

Now need to discuss amending tax returns sorting out the balance sheet mess and ultimately most likely raising further tax charges to the client.

Needless to say he's glad he moved. But you can see how us QBEs get irritated when we're blamed for everything.

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David Ross
By davidross
29th Jan 2021 11:41

I have always taken the view that HMRC would not be interested in the process of approval, and would hold the taxpayer to account for what is in/not in the Return. I think that HMRC would agree with me that any failure in the authorisation process is a civil matter between the agent and the client.

In other words, the agent runs the risk of getting sued by the client, and of course the risk of a complaint to the agent's governing body. Also I agree that if a firm acts rashly, it is imperilling its reputation with HMRC - all they have to do to kill your business is to stop you filing online!

I am very happy that we now have a CRM that organises our approval process and records e-signatures.

But I think that the law of agency may be more nuanced than posters have assumed. If a client of 30 years' standing who is non-digital stands the risk of a fine, am I such a monster if I assume imputed authority to get him over the line? I have such an instance - client trusts me absolutely, but I cannot get him to respond to phone messages or texts. Bearing in mind that he will probably not even read the figures, and that we have another 12 months to file a Repair, why would I let him get a fine because I am being [***] (28 day Covid extension ignored for the purpose of this argument) ?

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By vinylnobbynobbs
29th Jan 2021 13:01

For a number of years, I have dealt with my wife's tax return. She was self employed and her affairs were very straight forward although it usually meant me submitting her return late on 31 January.

On 1 January 2020 she went into partnership and I said to her that she would need an accountant to deal with the partnership tax and accounts. She went to meet her business partners "accountant" who also agreed to deal with her personal tax return. Yippee I thought!

I was very annoyed and horrified to find out that a set of accounts have been drawn up, no balance sheet, and half of the "partnership" income and expenses are included on my wife's return and half lumped together with her partners other business income. I was further horrified that she did not sign her tax return (nor see it) and all she got from said "accountant" was a copy of the P&L accounts a letter confirming that her return had been filed and a bill.

She thinks she may have signed a 64-8 when she first met him but she does not have a letter of engagement.

She does not want to upset her business partner as said charlatan is an old school friend of theirs but I have finally convinced her to go an speak to a local qualified accountant. As far as I can see the "accountant" has no qualifications whatsoever.

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By David Gordon FCCA
29th Jan 2021 13:51

some of you are missing the point.
A signed tax return has the status of a "Sworn document" in court.
Due to the wonders of IT many of us including myself have become lazy in this matter.
In all sorts of ways, all sorts of persons, have forgotten the reason for a signature.

My favorite cautionary true example is: many years ago a then client walked out of a £600,000 mortgage because the lender had missed getting a signature.

English courts take approval signatures very seriously, and in many respects courts still work in days of pen and ink.

Every return and or set of accounts I issue, are signed by the client. Every letter of fact I send to HMRC is copied to the client.
Not least because it impresses upon the client that approval and signature are important.
If the facts as stated are correct your client would be entitled to claim damages in court. The court would most certainly severely admonish the defendant.

Submitting unsigned documents where the law clearly intends they should be approved and signed, goes against the whole protective purpose of this lawful requirement.
There is no such thing as an implied signature.

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Replying to David Gordon FCCA:
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By Gone Sailing
29th Jan 2021 15:54

Approved, yes.
But signed?
If the client says, "I approve ..... with IR Mark .....you have my authorisation to submit", is that not sufficient approval?

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Replying to David Gordon FCCA:
David Ross
By davidross
30th Jan 2021 15:37

Well, if 'wet ink' is required then all of us using e-signatures are in for big trouble. But then HMRC itself is anxious to accept digital signatures.

I had a credit card enforced on me by a Court because the Judge said that as I had been paying it, it 'must be a valid contract' and in any case most institutions add facsimiles of the signature of some bloke in the organisation.

There may be no such thing as an implied signature (no -one here has mentioned that term) but I think there is a principle of imputed authority - again, I am not a lawyer but I think that the law of agency is an interesting area.

Besides, this thread now covers three areas;

• downright incompetent and corrupt accountants (some of which are 'qualified')
• what constitutes a valid submission to HMRC;
• what redress a climate may have

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Replying to davidross:
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By Gone Sailing
31st Jan 2021 10:50

Thanks, but with respect, my comment was about 'approval' which did not contain a 'signature' of any description, not written, digital implied or otherwise.

(Unless an email from a client constitutes a signature)

I'm content that an 'approval sentance' by email, containing specific reference to the IR Mark, meets the HMRC approval by client criteria.

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Replying to davidross:
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By SXGuy
31st Jan 2021 15:51

It's a shame I never knew of this when it happend as I could have helped.

Paying a debt is not proof of an enforceable agreement.

Have helped many in the past with this argument. What the card company would have had to provide was either a copy of or a reconstituted copy of the agreement. A recon does not need a signature, the judge just has to be more sure than not, that it is a copy of the original.

Other factors would need to be looked at, but the main point you raise should not have been the basis of the judges determination.

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By LukeS
31st Jan 2021 16:14

Frankly, I'm getting fed up of the attitude on this forum that all QBEs are cowboys, even by the editor of this site.

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Replying to LukeS:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
02nd Feb 2021 18:19

Isn't it more that the qualified accountants are the cowboys and the unqualifieds the rustlers.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
02nd Feb 2021 18:43

Are you calling clients cows?

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By David Gordon FCCA
31st Jan 2021 16:56

Thanks for all the comments.
Some however still do not take on the nub of the issue.
The point of the signature on a legal document is that the signatory has considered and approved, WITHOUT ANY CAVEAT, the document. This is emphasised by the regulations, in the case of acs and ITR
Except and unless that signature is there, (For the moment set aside the question of electronic signatures) The law does not accept the document as valid.
In dispute, tribunal may well accept that the information contained therein is "Good". Nevertheless the document itself has not been approved in accordance with law.
Yes, as agents we carry out many tasks on behalf of the client. Notwithstanding this, the law, and HMRC, expects that an Agent carries out his duties in full accordance with the law.
Surely, this is the difference between having Power of Attorney vis a vis being an Agent. Power of Attorney specifically gives the holder the right, with responsibilities, to sign per pro. Revenue law and or Company Law does not so do in the matter of ITR and acs.
That signature is insurance that you have done your job and client approves.
I have paid, over decades, air passenger insurance. Thank Heaven it has been a complete waste of money.
Do you advise I should stop paying because it has been a waste of money for the previous x decades? I suspect you do not.
Risk to your practice of a devious client is far greater than the % risk of a 'plane falling out of the sky -Heaven Forefend-.

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By David Gordon FCCA
01st Feb 2021 14:32

Dear Davidross
Thank you for your note.
A commercial contract is not similar. The established rules of Offer,acceptance,and consideration apply. So if you have offered to buy something, paid for it, and have taken delivery that is generally proof.
What constitutes a signature acceptable in law, depends on the law with custom of the place.
For an income tax return just read the notes attached to page1 of online filing declaration with boxes, ,14, 22
Box 14 (Repayment claim) is crystal clear.
Yes, because of current digital services, we tend to play ducks and drakes with this.
Nevertheless, if once -Heaven Forefend- in your professional career you have to stand before a tribunal in these matters, the letter of the regulations takes precedence. Or do you want an exasperated Master to ask you "Please, read what it says".
Dear Adam.arca,
Thank you for your reply. I started as a clerk in 1961. There has never been a concept of implied consent regarding signing accounts and tax returns. Yes, there is implied consent regarding correspondence and such like, entered into through our status as Agents, but not for regulation required signatures.
Also Commercial Agents do have the ability to commit their principals.
Submitting tax returns for which you have no "Acceptable in law" client signature is wrong, always has been, you know it and most clients know it.
Why not ask the ICAEW or the ACCA, or HMRC?

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By David Gordon FCCA
02nd Feb 2021 14:35

Dear Gonesailing
Yes, you are correct.
A clear unequivocal emailed "Approval" from a verifiable source, does in normal life represent Approval and permission to act.
Notwithstanding this, the declaration wordings on the ITR does not admit this, and HMRC have not issued any guidelines or opinion indicating that HMRC will accept such "Approval". Nor has HMRC stated it will accept digital signatures.
That HMRC knows of this matter is illustrated by the form CT600, wherein the declaration is set out to allow authorised agent signatures.

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Replying to David Gordon FCCA:
David Ross
By davidross
02nd Feb 2021 18:10

Dear David,

You are correct, if you mean the paper Return. The notes say at TRG1'

"Signing your form and sending it back
Please make sure you sign and date the form yourself. If you forget, we cannot accept it and will have to send it back to you"

But HMRC is falling over itself to digitise and has (as other posters have evidenced) plainly said that it will accept other forms of approval.

This thread started about a rogue agent who did not follow modern procedures and has gone down a rabbit hole about 'wet signatures'

Lest there be any doubt in our clients' minds, the page that Tax Calc asks them to authorise says;

"I understand that when I advise Fair Balance Accounting that I have approved this copy they will be entitled to submit my return (or amended return) information using the Self Assessment Online Service."

So I don't fear problems from them where I can show that they used Accountancy Manager to e-sign.

A different World from the early 2000s when I spent the 31st January gathering signature pages, matching them and posting through the door of the local Tax Office (remember them?) at 1 am !

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Replying to davidross:
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By LukeS
02nd Feb 2021 21:24

Yes, remember meeting fellows from other practices almost cramming the letterbox at the local tax office (even typing local tax office seems so Olde Worlde now!)

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By Paul D Utherone
02nd Feb 2021 15:10

The copy cording for Agent declaration on the HMRC Software Developers information page - found here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa... - says the following:

Online Service for Self Assessment

Overview of the Copy Specification and Declaration

Online Service for Self Assessment - Copy Requirements and Declaration

Agents are authorised to submit online returns and amendments to returns to HMRC on behalf of a client over the Internet. They must complete the following procedure before sending the return or amendment information to HMRC:
1) Make a copy (electronic or paper) of the return or amendment information including any supplementary pages completed and any attachments to be transmitted and send it to the client.
2) Receive confirmation in writing from the client that the information is correct and complete to the best of the client’s knowledge and belief. The client may give their written confirmation in electronic or non-electronic form.

HMRC is not prescriptive about the processes and mechanisms used by agents to record that the above procedure has been correctly completed. But HMRC does recommend that agents remind clients that completion of nomination details in the return to enable a repayment to be sent to a bank, building society or other nominee will be taken to be their formal approval of the nomination.

Agents may print a copy of the information submitted online for their own records.
All returns submitted by agents on behalf of clients must include the following declaration:
“I confirm that my client has received a copy of the information contained in this return and approved the information as being correct and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief.”
This is represented as the ‘… AgentDeclaration’ choice in the mandatory declaration tag in each of the Individual, Partnership and Trust schemas.

So the HMRC view is that
- Agents must have written confirmation from the client that the return is correct; but
- written confirmation can be in electronic or non-electronic form
- how Agents record that is down to them

I am therefore trusting that an email approving a return for submission that quotes the IR Mark of the return checked and approved ought to be adequate record of approval on the basis that the IR Mark changes with entries in the return. So if a client approved an IR Marked return, and the agent then made an amendment, they would have to update the IR Mark on the return to be able to submit, and there should then be a sufficient trail to show / compare what was approved, and what was submitted.

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Replying to Paul D Utherone:
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By Gone Sailing
02nd Feb 2021 16:35

Excellent, as I thought, specifically no signature required.
Rock solid IR Mark approval by email, absolutely.

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Replying to Gone Sailing:
Kitten
By Hazel Accounts
03rd Feb 2021 11:33

You would think the IR mark is essential, and indeed the software I use to file prints a nice declaration with it on in large print for client to sign for authorisation purposes, however I still file a few simpler SATRs on HMRC's own system and the declaration that you can print out for client signature doesn't show the IR mark!

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