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Making Tax Difficult for VAT

Problems with linking clients to new agent services account

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From Peter Saxton:

I have sent the following letter to the Head of HMRC and my MP:

I have been having a terrible time with HMRC.

I have been registered with HMRC for online services for many years.

With the introduction of Making Tax Digital for VAT, HMRC have decided to require me to register a new “agent services account”. Nobody at HMRC has been able to explain to my why a new account is needed.

I registered a new agent services account.

I then had to link my existing clients from my online services account to my new agent services account. I asked to “sign in” via a link. When I selected the link I was asked various questions and I completed them. I did realise that the questions were the same as when I when I created my new “agent services account” but I continued. It then seemed that I had set up another “agent services account”!

I went back to my first agent services account and attempted to link my existing clients from my online services account to my new agent services account. I kept getting an error message so I phoned HMRC. After a long discussion they realised I had a problem because I had not waited 72 hours after creating the agent services account before attempting to link my clients. This had not been advised anywhere.

After waiting more than 72 hours I felt it would be safe to link my existing clients. I chose the section under “Link existing clients”. The first think to do was a “Sign-in” link. I selected the link and I was taken to a page which asked the same questions as when I created my agent services account! This time I didn’t go any further and I saw that there was a heading “create agent services account” at the top of the page! It would appear that the link takes people to the wrong page. 

I tried going through the steps several more times and each time I was presented with the “create agent services account” page but eventually I got a page that asked me to link my clients. When I selected the link I got the following message:

“There is a problem
This Government Gateway user ID is already linked to your agent services account.
If you need to link another Government Gateway user ID, sign in with the user ID and password for that account.”

I phoned HMRC. Eventually I was told that the problem was creating two agent services accounts. I asked if they could delete the second account because I only had details of the first account. I was told that HMRC would delete BOTH accounts and I would have to create ANOTHER agent services account!

At this point I realised that HMRCs systems are not suitable for MTD for VAT.

I am not happy with the following:

1 The need to create an agent services account when there is already an online services account.

2 Being regularly asked to create an agent services account when it is not necessary even when an agent services account has already been created.

3 The need to delete ALL agent services accounts rather than all but one. “Security reasons” isn’t an adequate excuse when HMRC web pages actually try to get agents to go to pages to create new accounts when agents have not asked to create new accounts.

I have told HMRC that my clients and myself will use the online services VAT pages until HMRC have got their MTD for VAT services working properly. If HMRC want to set up myself and my clients I am happy for them to do so.

Can you please help me to ensure that HMRC do this?

Replies (42)

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By memyself-eye
03rd Jul 2019 13:18

wish I could - I waited way more than 72 hours yet cannot see how to link clients to my ASA - no text appears to enable me to do this, only the same questions you came across leading to the creation of a second ASA (which I didn't do).
Apparently I need an activation code (which I don't have)?

have now lost all will to live.

Thanks (1)
By kenny achampong
03rd Jul 2019 14:11

This is just the start! I've got further down the line and here's more of what happens later which might help.

1. As you noticed, the link to ASA services doesnt work every time and sends you off to the wrong place, which has caused your problem. Thankfully I stopped myself going down that route in the nick of time. You need to google 'agent services account' and log in via that link.
2. Contrary to advice given to me multiple times from the VAT office, you do have to register clients for MTD via the HMRC website.
3. BEFORE you register them, take a copy of the cert of registration because as soon as you register, they delete all the information on the old log-in. And then guess what ? when you try to get new authorisation, the first question you are asked is date of registration, which is what they have just deleted!
4. When you register them for MTD, you need to be certain you are logged into the ASA account. The fact that it says 'log out' at the top right does NOT mean you are logged in. There is no way of telling if you have been successful/logged in. If you arnt logged in and so it's gone wrong, it just sends an email to the client telling them to log into their government gateway which becomes very confusing to everybody concerned.
5. When it asks for the clients 'registration number' it doesnt mean the VAT number, it means the Companies House number. And just to throw another spanner in the works, if you enter your normal 7 digit number, it just says that company is not VAT registered! You need to add a zero to the front of all 7 digit numbers. It doesnt tell you or give you any hint about that.
6. I wouldnt call them, they have even less idea about it than we do, and wrong advice has cost me hours and hours of wasted time.

Not fit for purpose is a massive understatement.

All this just to make it slightly harder to file a VAT return and so easier to make a mistake. What a total waste of money.

Thanks (5)
Replying to kenny achampong:
By kenny achampong
03rd Jul 2019 14:26

I forgot a couple more..
7. If you do manage to get through all the hoops, don't register too many at one time. You get sent emails from HMRC saying your client is successfully registered for MTD, but they don't bother with the company name, just the VAT number which isnt that much use really.
8. And the final 'faux pas' (in the words of HMRC), after about 5 days, they send an email to your client telling them they are NOT registered for MTD. You can ignore that, apart from having to tell your clients that they are registered, and try to convince them HMRC are wrong.

Thanks (2)
Replying to kenny achampong:
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By johnhemming
11th Jul 2019 11:59

Quote:
but they don't bother with the company name, just the VAT number which isnt that much use really.

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/
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Replying to kenny achampong:
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By nodrogbir
03rd Jul 2019 16:32

why didnt you see what happens on 7th August rather than waste all this time.

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Replying to nodrogbir:
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By memyself-eye
03rd Jul 2019 15:19

What did happen on 7 August - as we are still in July?

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Replying to memyself-eye:
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By nodrogbir
03rd Jul 2019 16:32

sorry my error.

Thanks (1)
Replying to kenny achampong:
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By nodrogbir
03rd Jul 2019 14:59

.

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By Brads.Kings
03rd Jul 2019 15:22

Main problem is that the web address https://www.access.service.gov.uk/login/signin/creds behaves differently depending upon how you have arrived there.

If you go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-in-to-your-agent-services-account and then click on "Sign in now" it takes you to https://www.access.service.gov.uk/login/signin/creds which is identical to the weblink first mentioned, but behaves differently.

I don't know whether this is an antifraud issue, one of those software features, or my brain hallucinating, but short cuts to https://www.access.service.gov.uk/login/signin/creds seem to cause a problem.

So my advice is create a short cut to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-in-to-your-agent-services-account, and follow the link.

Thanks (1)
Bramble
By Chris.Mann
03rd Jul 2019 15:30

This is much appreciated Peter and, I have a great fear of embarking on the migration across to the MTD agent services feature, for the very reasons you mention here. I'm sure many agents have found the transfer seamless although, it would be interesting to know what the immediate success rate has been.

I recently changed my email address and, last Thursday, decided that I would amend the email contact, within my (old school) agent services arrangement. Almost a week later - guess where emails are being sent?

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By pauljgoodman
03rd Jul 2019 18:57

I couldn't agree more. That page which says sign in or sign up; you get questions relating to sign up. And those sign in web addresses drove me mad. I felt like I was going round in circles. Even signing in to the old agent pages produces a page which say you can't sign in here, but thankfully provides a link to another page, which does get you to the right place

Thanks (1)
By petersaxton
04th Jul 2019 10:35

I tried the HMRC for VAT online services 0300 200 3701 today.
The guy said that he would send an email and ask them to not delete the first ASA I set up. He was also able to get me past the error messages when I tried to link clients. I managed to link the clients that I have on my old gateway but not without various problems which he was able to resolve. I was then able to link a client who I didn't have listed on my old gateway. I sent him the link he had to use and the list of HMRC instructions. He phoned me and said that he had selected the link but was told that the user ID and/or password was wrong! I asked him to use the user ID and password on his usual account login and it worked. It wouldn't work on the new link. I asked him to phone HMRC for help. Why is everything so difficult?

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Replying to petersaxton:
By petersaxton
04th Jul 2019 11:01

HMRC told him to ask me to enter his details again!

Thanks (1)
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By Eliza Lott
08th Jul 2019 16:12

The Agent Services Account first had to be set up for those having to use the Trust Registration Service two or three years ago and many people had real difficulties setting one up. We certainly did - we ended up in an endless loop as well, during which the system would either report that we already had such an account (we hadn't) or invited us to set up an ASA again and again.

Intervention was required by HMRC to sort it out and even their first attempts to do so failed.

These problems were widely reported at the time but it looks as though HMRC have failed to address them, with the result that people are having the same sort of problem with the ASA as arose years ago.

Also, it is a source of irritation that the only way to get to the ASA (for the TRS or MTD) is through the links in the HMRC guidance. The login page for the 'old' 'HMRC online services for agents account' does not work for the ASA, although the eventual login page for the ASA looks the same as for the old style account.

Thanks (3)
Replying to Eliza Lott:
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By SimonStone
11th Jul 2019 12:08

I'm having the same issue now that you seemed to have had a couple of years ago.

I can't actually create my ASA - I get stuck in a continual loop where it creates a new Gateway each time, but won't let me go on to create an ASA.

I've tried the VAT helpline and MTD 'specialist' team numerous times and they're stumped. They referred me to their technical team - no phone line just an email. After weeks of emails going over to them, the only response I've ever received is an auto generated 'we're dealing with your matter'.

I've tried to escalate this, was told that the complaints team don't have phones, just an email. And all I've got from them is an auto generated response 'looking into this matter'........

So, at the moment I can't file VAT returns for my MTD registered customers because of HMRC's systems!

To preserve my sanity - I assume they eventually resolved your problem?!?

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By gcg007
11th Jul 2019 12:15

I had no problems registering my ASA.... but registering my first client for MTD has taken 4 weeks. My problem was when I had to confirm the VAT No. of the client the screen froze. After many many phone calls... one suggestion was to cancel my ASA and start again..... I finally spoke to a person on the helpline who had dealt with my problem. So here goes... if this happens to you you must download or use a different brower. I had used Firefox but had Edge loaded on my computer. I am not a a technical person but the 3 dots top right on the Edge home page, as he explained, enable you to send 'private info'? I clicked on the 3 dots... went to the HMRC site and low and behold I followed the instructions and registered the client!

Thanks (2)
Replying to gcg007:
Tornado
By Tornado
11th Jul 2019 19:58

I can confirm that Firefox does NOT work and the freezing screen that I experienced on several occasions was for this reason. I always use Chrome now and all seems OK.

I suspect that HMRC have done a deal with Google to ensure that only Chrome works with HMRC systems.

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Replying to Tornado:
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By johnhemming
11th Jul 2019 20:54

Quote:

I suspect that HMRC have done a deal with Google to ensure that only Chrome works with HMRC systems.


There can be fiddly problems with javascript in Firefox and Safari that mean Chrome is safer as in more likely to work.

Both Firefox and Safari are, however, still being developed and are potentially good alternatives.

If you want open source there is Chromium.
https://chromium.woolyss.com/download/en/

I have not used it myself, but it should be OK.

You might as well give up with Edge and Internet Explorer. Microsoft more recently have decided to stop developing Edge.

For those that don't know when you down load an advanced web page you often also download a lot of programming in javascript (which is sort of like java, but not that much)

Javascript is supposed to be the same on many browsers, but they don't all cope properly with all the functions in javascript. If a website uses something only a limited range of browsers cope with then it can sometimes go wrong.

Thanks (1)
Replying to johnhemming:
Morph
By kevinringer
12th Jul 2019 09:33

I can confirm that both IE (Windows 7) and Edge (Windows 10) work for GOV.UK's MTD pages. But Chrome and Firefox DO NOT WORK for Sage desktop software interfacing with MTD whereas IE and Edge DO work! We have about 50 clients using Sage desktop software and all have had to change their default browsers from Chrome and Firefox to IE or Edge. We've had to do the same in the office but we also use QuickBooks Online for about 200 clients and QBO no longer supports IE so are having to use Chrome for QBO on our Windows 7 PCs. This means our Windows 7 staff are having to set their default browser to IE for Sage MTD but use Chrome for QBO. It's really scrappy.

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By Cathy Milligan
11th Jul 2019 12:50

All this is very similar to what I have been experiencing. I signed up one client only and submitted via bridging software - very easy. But nothing from HMRC to say the return had been received. Viewing submitted returns on the original agent account does not show it as submitted either.
In desperation I called 0300 200 3701 last night about 5.50. Answered after two rings (yes - really- only two) and verbal confirmation was given that it had been received by HMRC. Phew.
Grabbed the opportunity of a person to talk to but honestly, all she could do was repeat several times "you miust have missed a step in the set up process"
But, from what I understand the new ASA is just the login credentials with which to submit and does not give any other information, like a client list or anything. This sort of information would be stored within the MTD software. Most unsatisfactory. And yes, once a client is signed up for MTD, in the old agent screen their VAT registration certificate is no longer available.

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By CatsandDogs
11th Jul 2019 16:49

Absolutely - I have been through exactly the same rigmarole over a period of 9 months in which I had to call 7 times to get the incorrect account deleted before I could start again.. Now I ma successfully signing up clients for MTD but only by doing the following:
- Logging into the ASA
- Opening another window, bringing up the sign up to MTD instructions and clicking on the link there.
It appears that there is now way to sign up clients from the ASA log in page! I only discovered this by accident and then had to reverse-engineer the exercise to work out how.
I do feel, however, that I know more about this process than HMRC themselves now!

Fun fun fun

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By Red Leader
11th Jul 2019 17:46

WHAT A FU***NG WASTE OF TIME FOR ALL CONCERNED!
Capitals deliberately used.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
11th Jul 2019 18:11

All these problems will be a thing of the past with MTD.©

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Replying to lionofludesch:
RLI
By lionofludesch
11th Jul 2019 18:11

No - hang on - that's not right, is it ?

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By NewACA
11th Jul 2019 19:28

I think you need to find mtd software that :

1. Shows historic vat returns, so you don't need to contact HMRC to see if the return was accepted.

2. Has a step by step process with the correct link to the correct HMRC page for each step.

3. Helps you with mtd registration issues to get your firm up and running. Some of them have helped many accountants do this so they know more about it than accountants doi g it for the first time.

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Replying to NewACA:
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By Matrix
11th Jul 2019 20:08

I have followed John Hemming’s advice and have authorised all submitted clients in second software, in my case VT since I am already subscribed, so I can see the submission receipt as a check. Filings were done in Xero and FreeAgent and it took seconds to set up each client in VT as a double check. I now know that, when the cloud software says the return has been submitted, it has been submitted.

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Morph
By kevinringer
11th Jul 2019 20:02

When MTD was announced I knew the big problem would be digitisation of client records because 39% of my clients are still paper based. All these ASA problems are before we even start to attempt the digitisation of transactions. We can't even get started. Which idiot thought up MTD? They've probably been promoted by now and are no longer around to see the mess they have made.

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Replying to kevinringer:
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By bendybod
12th Jul 2019 16:23

The same one that thought up RTI. It's not so much the 'thinking it up' that's the issue. RTI does, now, work ok. I'm sure MTD will in time too. The real issue is HMRC (and other Gov't departments) fast tracking stuff at the last minute because they've seemingly spent months or years 'planning' (read: putting off) a new concept and then introduce it with insufficient actual planning or testing. Coupled with an unwillingness (certainly with RTI) to accept that there could be issues at their end, you end up with seriously disgruntled taxpayers (refuse to call them customers) and worn down agents. The expectation, as per normal, will be that we will solve the issues but our clients won't want to pay us to do so.

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Morph
By kevinringer
11th Jul 2019 20:05

I have my ASA log in page as a default tab in my browser. I have discovered that if I attempt to log into my ASA when I've not logged out of my old GG account I am prompted to create a new ASA. Why? If HMRC say the ASA and old GG are separate why can't I be logged into both at the same time? And if I can't be logged into both surely the ASA log in screen should tell me and not prompt me to create another ASA. Why didn't HMRC spot these gaffs earlier? Answer: they didn't do a proper pilot and now we're all suffering huge wastes of time.

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Morph
By kevinringer
11th Jul 2019 20:18

If I'm logged into my ASA and attempt to log into my old GG it says 'You can't view this page'. The only way to log into both is to have them running in different browsers.

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Morph
By kevinringer
11th Jul 2019 20:18

I don't understand why agents have to have an ASA. Taxpayers don't need a new log in for MTD, so why agents?

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Replying to kevinringer:
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By bendybod
12th Jul 2019 16:26

I thought clients did need to go through a similarly horrible process if they are doing it themselves. I've certainly had my fair share of clients getting stuck registering for MTD.

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By Rgab1947
12th Jul 2019 15:30

OK I am now thoroughly scared. I will force my clients to submit their own VAT. I will just check their figures on their cloud software.

What a shower!

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By djtax
16th Jul 2019 12:37

Does anyone at HMRC ever look at AWeb? If not why not?

All the above comments reiterate for the nth time what we have all been saying all along that HMRC have brought in MTD for VAT too quickly and without an adequate level of pilot testing. Why on earth do HMRC choose to ignore our (usually well intentioned) feedback? Are we now just seen as the enemy, to be disregarded by HMRC?

I for one would be interested to hear what response Peter gets from HMRC to his letter. Sadly I suspect it will be the usual bland apology from a junior officer replying 'on behalf' of the HMRC chief saying 'not up to our usual standard of service' and that HMRC will note the comments and aim 'to do better next time'. As if....

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