Managing Director Movemybooks
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64-8 is the number of the devil

5th Aug 2010
Managing Director Movemybooks
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I remember well, when I was learning my trade as an accountant in the eighties, how useful form 64-8 “Authorising your agent” was.

Back then, it was the key to being able to have friendly (usually), informed and time-saving telephone conversations with HMRC regarding a particular client. It meant you could talk directly with the Tax Inspector dealing with that client’s affairs at your local tax office; someone you knew by name and, in most cases, had met face to face.

It therefore made perfect sense to get all clients to sign a 64-8. It was in everyone’s interest and all parties (the client, the accountant and the tax office) benefited.

Now, fast forward to 2010. Times have changed. Things are much, much different. If I was starting a new practice now, I would make it a rule that we did NOT allow ourselves to be authorised under forms 64-8.

The form has become a poised chalice for accountants. The client still benefits from the arrangement, and HMRC certainly do, but the accountant? Absolutely not. For the accountant, being the authorised agent now just means lots of extra hassle, wasted chargeable time and paper handling.

The 2010 version of the 64-8 arrangement for the accountant means fighting your way through call centres (who might never actually pick up your call), remote HMRC administrative offices and revenue staff who have little idea what you are talking about. The client gets frustrated with you, thinking that you are not doing your job properly, or making excuses. Of course, they don’t want to pay you for all this wasted time.

Then there’s the paper mountain that a modern form 64-8 brings to your office. Huge piles of client statements of account are just one example. You process all of this paper, soaking up more staff time and then spend even more time because you find errors that need to be corrected. Back to the call centre merry go round again.

So, I say let the clients deal with HMRC direct. Let them understand how much time this takes and let them call you in (for a fee) when they either can’t cope, or put a higher value their time. And let the revenue take the flak from the client when they prove to be inept on a regular basis.


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Replies (2)

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By MarionMorrison
06th Aug 2010 13:34


And the alternative is.....?

Not sure why 64-8's bring a whole load of clients statements since they stopped sending out agent's statements of accounts about 2 years ago now.  It could be that you've arranged to receive the statements of account instead of the clients (takes all sorts).  And if the Revenue are cocking their figures up left right and centre then don't you need to find out?

The call-centre system is 7?8? years in place now.  Having worked for the Revenue I know why this was put there - because it was hard to get stuff done because the phone never stopped ringing.  The theory is that the call centres screen the easy puzzles and only pass on what is trickier.  My correspondence doesn't seem to get dealt with any quicker or slower than it did in 2000 or 1990 or 1980 under whatever system.

This feels like a complaint left over from 2005.  If you want to try working without 64-8's or where their being logged onto the system was a random affair taking 2-8 weeks, then good luck with that.

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By Katmandu
09th Aug 2010 11:29

HMRC Call Backs

I'm not sure that I see any more paperwork as a result of having submitted a 64-8, but I do wholeheartedly agree that dealing with HMRC over the past couple of years has become much, much more time consuming

The problem now seems to be that the call entres can ony deal with the most basic of queries and anything else has to be passed on to someone with some degree of technical knowledge.  In principle I have no problem with this but in reality the result is that we have to wait for a call back made at HMRC's convenience which should be within 3 - 5 working days, however, I was recently told on two occasions that this had been extended to 15 working days at the office I needed to speak to and some offices are working on longer times than this!  Apparently the officer making the call back should try 3 times, but in my experience, when the calls are made they are only made once and if you happen to be out at lunch or in a client meeting then you have to start the whole process over again...

The problem seems to be compounded because the call centres are sending emails to general office email addresses, many of which are now no longer used so there is a fair chance that the email isn't even being received by the intended parties so there is a good chance that whilst we are patiently waiting to resolve a query, the call request has ended up in a black hole somewhere and therefore stands no (or very little as I am assured that HMRC have people trawling these 'black hole' email accounts for missed call backs) chance of being made!

This therefore leaves a lot of very frustrated accountants with unbillable WIP, unhappy clients and I'm sure a lot of unhappy people at HMRC who are having to deal with all the complaints and given the way things are going, I can't imagine that things are likely to improve for anyone any time soon.

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