Lack of client list weakens agent MTD account
Practitioners preparing for Making Tax Digital (MTD) are expressing frustration at the inability of the Agent Services Account (ASA) to show whether clients have opted into the new VAT filing regime.
Responding to an Any Answers query about the Agent Services Account last month, Duggimon explained: “There’s no client list in the ASA, your clients will appear in your MTD software.” As the HMRC guidance for agents explains, you have to register each client for MTD as well as your agent account, then set them up in your software.
But others are less happy with the situation. AccountingWEB member Charlie Carne told AccountingWEB at QuickBooks Connect last week: “Why can’t you see a list of clients? I don’t know if clients can file via MTD. There’s nothing to tell me.”
As a result, he has to view each client record individually to find out whether they are MTD-enabled.
“We’re told it’s for security reasons – which means the existing website is not secure. That’s indicative of HMRC’s incompetence. The implementation is appalling.”
Anita Monteith from the ICAEW tax faculty and the CIOT have both raised the issue with HMRC. The tax faculty website explained: “If a client list were to be available in the ASA it would permit access to all client records by all of the firm’s staff. HMRC expects agents to manage their MTD client list and staff access though their MTD software and to manage their client lists for other services through the existing agent portal. ICAEW has raised the difficulties this will cause agents (particularly if an agent uses more than one software product).”
“It’s a management nightmare,” commented AccountingWEB’s Rebecca Cave in this week’s Not Accounting For Taste podcast.
Answering another query raised during the recent Accounting Excellence Talk on MTD preparations, Intuit’s Alex Davis said many other firms had highlighted the lack of a client list or MTD dashboard within the ASA.
“Speaking to HMRC, that is the way the service has been designed,” said Davis. “The list sits within the software itself. So in QuickBooks Online, for example, you will see a list of clients that are registered and enabled for MTD.
“I know the feedback to HMRC is that agents would like a single dashboard view within the HMRC [system] because they have a number of clients accessing a number of different software applications.”
HMRC has indicated that it will be responding to the feedback with a basic list feature in the ASA, but it may not have all the management features practitioners are hoping to see. Instead, that information will depend on the availability of application programming interfaces (APIs) to feed details back out to commercial systems.
Simpler bridging programs are unlikely to include such facilities, so Rebecca Cave advised practitioners to look more carefully at specialist applications offering more comprehensive client views.
Some of these applications can be found by filtering the list on AccountingWEB’s MTD software comparison table.
[Updated 7 March with Tax Faculty explanation of the security situation]
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