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Help – MLR supervision cancelled without warning!

*This question has been posted anonymously upon request.*

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Hi all,

I’m a tax adviser supervised by HMRC for MLR, and have been for about the last 8 years. Usually HMRC sends me a reminder message to renew a few weeks in advance, we pay, and all is well – our renewal is on 31st August each year.

Yesterday, out of the blue I received 2 identical messages on the online site saying my supervision has expired for not paying, and my supervision was cancelled on 31st August 2020! The facts are that yes, I haven’t paid and yes, I’m an idiot for not setting up a standing order, but in mitigation I had no reminder last year for the first time ever.

Last year as assistance to businesses affected by COVID, HMRC offered a deferral of payments (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-a-payment-deferral-or-deregister-from-money-laundering-supervision-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19), which very clearly states that we don’t have to do anything to get 6 month’s grace on payment, and that they will e-mail with a new due date for payment. As I didn’t get the normal reminder, I didn’t pay on time but that should have automatically triggered the deferral scheme and I have had no messages whatsoever about a new due date.

So, any suggestions what I should do now? I’ve e-mailed [email protected], as I can’t get through on any phone lines to the MLR people at HMRC. The message last night said I can write and ask for a review within 30 days, but the information seems to suggest that I shouldn’t trade in the meantime, which will be a disaster given the amount of work I have in progress. Applying again would seem to require me to admit I’ve been trading without supervision for a year, which probably won’t go down well.

It does seem a bit off that a scheme introduced to make things easier for supervised companies during the chaos of COVID actually causes more stress and gives a nice kick in the nuts instead!

Thanks.

*This question has been posted anonymously upon request.*

Replies (11)

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By Duggimon
24th Aug 2021 10:21

At the risk of advising you to take a course that isn't really legal, there's not a lot of difference between trading for 358 days without MLR supervision and trading for 388 days without MLR supervision.

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Replying to Duggimon:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
24th Aug 2021 10:40

I take your point, but the problem is that now OP would KNOW that they were operating without MLR cover. I think that would make a big difference if it went to court.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
24th Aug 2021 10:23

How much is it? It might be worth making the payment to bring things up to date if the amount involved is not huge. You would still need to get the actual registration reinstated, but paying up front might get them to agree to treat it as continuous.

Whilst I appreciate the last year was unprecedented, it does seem careless to rely on email reminders from HMRC for such a business critical matter. You should set up independent reminders of your own in future to avoid this happening again.

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By SXGuy
24th Aug 2021 11:05

I too didnt get a reminder last year, and was late in paying, however they didnt suspend my aml, I did end up paying it 5 months late, and was accepted after 30 days.

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By Cheshire
24th Aug 2021 11:22

I had an issue with HMRC hounding me for payment when I cancelled it with them and moved to my prof body.

I used this email and received a rapid response, but if you say where you got it from I will deny it!

[email protected]
03000 513 131

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By thomas34
24th Aug 2021 12:30

You are correct that reminders used to be sent with a link enabling online payment to be made. I paid my renewal on 5 August (renewal date 31/7 but no reminder sent). On 19 August was told that my supervision had expired. I was cut off twice in trying to resolve the problem but did glean from one lady that they were aware of a problem in the AML department. If you have emailed they should have auto-responded to the effect that a reply will be forthcoming with 15 days - ha! ha!

I've informed them if my client list disappears they will be facing court action for compensation for several thousands of pounds.

Not entirely relevant to the OP's question I know who should use a diary like me to monitor important renewal dates.

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By adam.arca
24th Aug 2021 12:58

I don't think the OP is an idiot even if they think they are: we've all been there and done something which looked daft in retrospect. Now that it's happened, however, the lesson to be learned (which I was lucky to learn early in my career) is NEVER to rely on a third party as your reminder system.

As for what to do now, I would direct you back to the first reply. Only you know your full circumstances and, as long as you're confident that you're a completely pukka operation, you're now left with a choice of committing a technical offence but continuing to ensure your clients meet their responsibilities versus downing tools and taking the flak for HMRC not being able to organise the proverbial event in the brewery.

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By Leywood
24th Aug 2021 14:03

Watch out, you may now also start to find that your agent accounts are now cancelled.

BTW, your gratitude to those who have helped can still be shown without you giving away who you are, that little thank you button is handy.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
24th Aug 2021 14:15

Time for some lateral thinking. Starting with HMRC's list of approved supervisory bodies:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/money-laundering-regulations-accountancy-ser...

You're in need of a Liberian flag. The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers jump off the page at me:
https://www.bookkeepers.org.uk/Membership/exemption-route
"Become a member by exemption" - You may be able to join ICB as a member if you have completed... [there follows a list of exams] ...OR if you have relevant work experience .

Alternatively: there's the International Association of Bookkeepers
https://iab.org.uk/join-the-iab/professional-membership-faqs/
Halfway down the page "I am s skilled bookkeeper but without formal qualifications can I still be a member of IAB?" and, because their accordion isn't working right click the page and click "view page source" for the answer to that. (Search the word "qualifications"). And the answer is: Professional membership is available for those who have gained a relevant bookkeeping qualification from IAB or another awarding body. Alternatively, for those who are skilled in bookkeeping but do not yet hold a formal qualification, we offer a route to membership by undertaking an industry-standard online test.

Footnote: I'm assuming you are able to put your hand on your heart and say you are able to book-keep. And you may need to ask very nicely about fast-tracking a practising certificate. Fortune favours the brave!

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By Anonymous
24th Aug 2021 15:27

Thanks all for the responses, I’m slightly reassured that I may not be alone in being affected. I do still feel a fool, although I’m grateful for @adam.arca saying he doesn’t think I am! I’m normally so good with my calendar – I even reviewed and updated my MLR procedure based on an annual reminder just this February, so I’ve no idea how I missed this one.

@stepurhan I immediately paid 2 year’s worth of fees (£600) which will hopefully count in my favour if I can get this unwound, although it may also disappear into a suspense account somewhere if they no longer recognise my reg number! I also agree with you that there’s a big difference legally now that I am no longer blissfully ignorant of my own failing.

@Cheshire – I may well use those contact details if I haven’t heard any response in the next couple of days, thanks!

@Leywood – my agent account is still working at the moment, although I did write a couple of weeks ago to get another category of code added, so I wonder if that prompted my cancellation in the first place? Also, appreciate you pointing out about the thanks button – I wasn’t sure if it was like social media where people can see who “liked” their posts!

@I'msorryIhaven'taclue – I’m not sure a flag of convenience approach is ideal, and probably doesn’t help me with the last year’s position! On a more serious note, I’m actually half way through qualifying for ATT precisely because I think having a professional body in the mix will be a bit easier to deal with, and the mood music coming from HMRC is that requiring tax advisers to be a member of a professional body might become a requirement one day…

I will update this thread if/when I hear anything – fingers crossed I’ll be able to de-anonymise as well!

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By Anonymous
31st Aug 2021 13:50

Hi all,

Just a quick update on my progress. I called the number posted by @Cheshire and was immediately connected to someone on the AMLRS team who was very helpful and I’m now pretty much back up and running, which is a huge relief.

To summarise, my supervision did expire because even with the deferral scheme offered I should have still renewed. They apparently locked my account as waiting for payment, and only when they finally gave up on me and unlocked it did it automatically expire my registration as of last year.

There is no way to simply undo the mistake, so I’ve had to re-apply for supervision, although because I’ve applied (just!) within a year of expiry they may be able to set my supervision back as having run continuously. They could confirm that the payment I made is sitting waiting to be allocated to my application too. The system now says I can trade and carry out business activities whilst my application is pending, phew!

They couldn’t comment on whether I’d be penalised or not, so I’m not out of the woods yet, although they did say that the lack of any reminder e-mails from them would certainly help my case in appealing against any penalties etc.

Thanks to AW for helping me get back on an even keel!

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