I don't know why HMRC make it so difficult for agents to act on behalf of taxpayers.
All it needs is extra agent-dedicated line to cover all the taxes, and for the agent online systems to include all the accounts information. It would take lots of pressure off HMRC as they would deal with (in the main) informed and professional agents instead of either uninformed agents (because the account information isn't available to them), irritated agents because they've spent the last half an hour on a publicly-focused line being told to look at the (badly degraded) website, or worst of all, taxpayers themselves who in most cases don't fully understand the right questions to ask, let alone the answers they get.
When will they realise that the vast majority of agents want the same results as HMRC, and can help them achieve it with far less effort on their part if they removed the blockages they place in the way of direct communication between agents and HMRC? I'm sore I'm not the only accountant who has asked a client to phone HMRC directly with what I think is a simple issue where I don't have time to hang on listening to the exhortations to check online, only to have to get involved later because the client and HMRC often talk different languages.
Mike Tombs is a Director of TLA Business Services, a firm of Chartered Management Accountants and Business Advisers based in Worcester and covering the West Midlands. Unlike most accountants in practice, he has spent the bulk of his career working in hands-on roles in a range of industries, including engineering, construction, manufacturing,...