After the agent applies for authorisation, HMRC sends to the client a letter with an authorisation code for the client to give to us as the agent. This letter says:
"Once this authority is activated it will allow us to exchange information about your VAT business with [Agent name] and to deal with them on any matters within the responsibility of HMRC in relation to your VAT business."
You probably have some of these on file. The bit "on any matters" is pretty clear.
After getting the same response we are filing a complaint. If the complaint is not dealt with, then on to the Adjudicator, and then the local MP.
If we don't complain and follow it through, we can't expect anything to improve.
An update, in case it helps anyone else:
HMRC’s deputy director of Making Tax Digital Clare Sheehan (14/02/19) urges agents to use the ASA instead and put away their paper 64-8 forms. “They are being replaced by the new system,” she said.
Thank you John Stokdyk!
Thank you Roland195 and Matrix.
Your replies show that it's not an islolated occurrence.
We are staying with Quickbooks, but keeping a foot in the door in case we might want to move away in future.
Not as daunting as it seems at first - most of our clients leave the bookkeeping to us. (Bookkeeping is not where we planned to be, but with the changes cloud software brings we're trying to be open-minded.) Most of these clients seem indifferent as to which software package we or they buy, so long as we make it work for them.
To balance my negative comments on 17th, Quickbooks does have many positives. Reports are good. We schedule email reports to ourselves and clients to backup data outside Quickbooks. The basics work well. We are still confident enough to promote Quickbooks to our clients.
I do still like Quickbooks, it's just that 18 months ago I envisaged building our practice future on Quickbooks. Now however it's a friendship rather than a marriage.
Going back to the Original Post, my comparisons are out-of-date by 18 months, but as a user I would still recommend Quickbooks, and (given my willingness to criticise QB) I hope my thoughts are objective enough to be helpful.
We prefer Moneysoft for payroll, but will move as soon as we find a system with a portal so sub-contractors of our builder clients can post their own hours etc online.
About 18 months ago we spent a lot of time comparing Sage One, Xero, Quickbooks, Freeagent and Clearbooks.
Xero seemed more connectable with other apps than its competitors, but we found it rather hard to work with. Reports not as easy to see on screen, missing some basics like a single report showing debit, credit and running balance (eg to locate a bank difference), and a 12-month report whose total column was wrong.
SageOne - at the time - more complex pricing structure, some complexity with sharing / number of users, and trouble getting a trial version login so we didn't actually try it.
Freeagent, Clearbooks and Kashflow - can't find my notes, but from memory not as feature-rich as Xero and Quickbooks. Quite likeable interfaces however, and no particular dislikes.
We settled on Quickbooks because it was better with some of the basics, eg importing bank transactions, better reports, and ease of understanding.
18 months later, we find Quickbooks support unhelpful for software faults. We've found a few, eg duplicated bank transactions (over 100) which we tried to delete individually, but which kept reappearing minutes after being deleted. Accounts rendered useless. QB Support agreed they couldn't be deleted, and the hours in chat sessions just wasted more time.
The apparent unwillingness or inability of Quickbooks to fix those few things that don't work, or even to communicate with us about them, has considerably undermined our confidence in it.
Re the cancelled phone appointment, it was just our side.
I should have said that we do try other things. In order to narrow things down a bit, we have two PCs set up in entirely different ways:
Computer A - Windows 10, service provider Plusnet.
Computer B - Ubuntu 17, using a different service provider, TalkTalk.
Everything else - including video streaming and skype - seems to work fine. We clear the cache, clear browsing history, tried different browsers, etc. Are the direct debits are being collected by Intuit - yes. What else could be wrong?
There seems nothing in common between these two computers except the Quickbooks account itself.
I agree that a more realistic response would be "give up and try again tomorrow". We still haven't tried slapping the PC though...
Could it be that after advertising, Quickbooks does not have the capacity to service the increased business?
A few years ago we had a similar issue after a client incorporated his business. Debt collectors were calling at the door for unpaid corporation tax, while a much greater amount was held by HMRC in CIS tax deducted. Despite letters of authorisation, bank statements etc sent to HMRC, we were getting nowhere.
After a while the client went to see our local member of parliament, and I think this resulted in a letter being sent by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to HMRC about the matter. Not long after we had a letter from a very competent person HMRC who in one letter quite simply summarised and resolved the outstanding amounts over several years. The set-off was made and a substantial amount refunded.
Around that time there is a freedom of information request (qv) asking HMRC how much unclaimed CIS deduction monies they hold, to which HMRC's reply showed that they were (probably still are) holding large sums deducted on behalf of subcontractors but not repaid to them. (It's not that straightforward though - consider transient workers who never complete a tax return.)
Our client's view was that HMRC is simply obstructive.
Just don't give up.
I spend far too much time looking (so far unsuccessfully) for software that will do these things:
1. A simple Deadline List.
This might be by company dates, VAT returns, etc, or all together. Simple interface, with filters and sorters.
2. Store emails in client folders, automatically, based on sender's address.
3. Task management.
Emails or phone calls generate work to do. We want to create a task from this to include this in the deadline calendar if we want.
4. Task management for accounts or tax jobs (aka workflow?) showing basic stages, again with the option to show these in the Deadline List.
5. Manage all client files, with options for naming files automated as much as possible. (All files - eg emailed data backups, or recordings of phone conversations (think HMRC here)).
6. Client interaction record (aka CRM?) - showing recent events, including notes so, before phoning client, staff are aware that client's cat died yesterday.
Prompts to ensure we interact with A-list clients often.
7. Billing - this heads towards accounts, but it need not be integrated.
8. We don't keep timesheets, but I imagine most would want to link time incurred to client records.
9. Custom fields, so each accountancy practice can use it in the way that suits them. For example, where we can record AML and risk management issues on each client.
Desktop or Cloud?
Then there's the question of whether it's desktop software where we have the data, or cloud software where we give all our data to someone else. Hmm. Most would prefer to have the data, but software providers increasingly want to sell us cloud-based software so they don't have to sort out the incompatibilities of Windows versions etc.
We're currently starting with a cloud accounts / tax / practice management system, and it's clear that the PM module isn't up to it.
The nearest we've come is an Access database we did ourselves, which only ticks some of these boxes.
This article was dated February 2016 and it's October 2016 now, so if there are no comments then I'll repost this in Any Questions.
Thank you Sparkly
Thanks Sparkly - I imagine everyone reading this is copying your link in order to login in to HMRC as before.
Council of Mortgage Lenders
I phoned the Council of Mortgage Lenders today and was told quite clearly that "there's nothing on our website about SA302 forms".
There seems to be nothing to compel lenders to accept SA302 calculations from (qualified) accountants, and the difficulty we face as accountants seems solely due to HMRC's reluctance to accept the cost of sending out these paper forms.