Lack of client list weakens agent MTD account

HMRC agent services setup
Making Tax Digital_HMRC
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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]

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight

AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.

Replies

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By Tornado
07th Mar 2019 09:56

I usually have a lot to say about this mess, but even I am lost for words this time!

(Thanks to John for enlightening us)

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to Tornado
07th Mar 2019 13:08

My thanks to John as well.

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07th Mar 2019 10:19

having to sign up each client individually is the real pain, why all clients who we are authorised to act for already cant be signed up in bulk is a mystery

also sign up relies on clients verifying an email from HMRC, which is fine until the client doesn't do this and then problems can kick in

whilst we receive an email from HMRC confirming that clients have signed up, the email doesn't give the client name only their VRN, so checking who has approved is a pain too

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07th Mar 2019 10:24

Wot - clients not all using the same software?
Who'd of thunk it!

Not HMRC obviously.

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07th Mar 2019 10:59

Clients are ringing me in droves and I have no answers.
Apart from relaying the Stakeholder pack to them .
The HMRC Readiness Team refuse to email with support.
Just about every article I read condems this pathetic scheme and HMRC are silent apart from the usual propaganda put out by Mel Stride and Teresa Middleton.
All my usual work is being left to deal with this farce and so SA and Payroll year end is being delayed. The clients have not a clue how to proceed , find the software confusing and really are lost . Would you not think that with H0L Report , The Debate in the House of Commons, ICAEW and FSB , and just about all the trade bodies condemning this HMRC would have the decency to put out a statement to address concerns . I just hope that the Software companies come on board as in the end everyone will be digital however at the moment they are using this to make money backed by HMRC .

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/making-tax-digital

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to nodrogbir
07th Mar 2019 14:55

I don't expect the major software companies coming on board sadly. They are acting like Arthur Daley, rubbing their grubby hands with glee with false advertising saying you need their products.

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07th Mar 2019 10:52

I called HMRC yesterday because when I signed up for the new Agent Account it said link your old Agent Account, so all of your clients transfer over. Result, none visible and I was told this feature is not yet available. I decided that my practice would be the first to sign up to the new MTD for VAT regime. After completing the process, was told I would hear from HMRC within 72 hours. Still waiting about 10 days later, but I did get an email on 25th February confirming my direct debit has been transferred, as the only clue something had changed. A shambles and I am being polite through gritted teeth.

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to nodrogbir
07th Mar 2019 12:03

Signed and shared on Facebook

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By tedbuck
07th Mar 2019 10:54

I just so love HMRC. They have the most fascinating ways of setting tasks for people to waste their time on. I thought MTD meant 'making tax difficult' but I surmise that it must really mean 'making tax destructive'.
Judging by how much time my small practice has so far wasted on it in trying to get clients to understand what it involves and get them a way to comply I should think the cost over the country must run into tens of billions. And what will it achieve? HMRC will get the same figures it would have got before in a slightly different format at a ridiculous cost to the country's productivity.
Am I alone in thinking that HMRC and HMG must be full of brainless nitwits who cannot see beyond the next day.
GDPR was another similar situation what a waste of time - and will it stop the hackers? No of course it won't if they can hack into NASA and the like what chance do Bloggs and Co have but I suppose the fines will fill HMG's coffers.
I wish I lived in Kent so I could sign off as
Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

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to tedbuck
07th Mar 2019 12:46

I wonder how much the Director of the Making Tax Digital Awarness Team gets paid. None of my clients are compliant even though they want to be its basically because they are unable to be. I will claim exemption but as HMRC told them this was happening at the end of February issued the exemption guidance ( which is totally ambiguous) less than 30 days before the start date what chance has a small business have of applying. Mel Stride needs the sack , saying that the first return isnt due until 7th August , does he not realise that to file that return someone has to keep digital records from 1st April !

Today's papers :

Small businesses just aren't ready for the Government's botched digital tax reforms

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By Tornado
to nodrogbir
07th Mar 2019 11:38

Our first Returns will be to the 30th April 2019 for our clients who submit monthly returns, and that includes a Partnership . Bearing in mind that Partnerships could not join the Pilot until January this year at the earliest, this hardly gives the promised 1 years minimum pilot testing promised by HMRC.

I am not bothered, as I am not going to try and achieve the impossible.

HMRC have no choice, they will have to make MTD for VAT voluntary as from 1st April 2019, or delay the whole project indefinitely.

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to Tornado
07th Mar 2019 11:57

Yes I feel the pressure is mounting.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/making-tax-digital

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to tedbuck
07th Mar 2019 11:39

I do live in Kent, so I will sign off for you!!

Thanks (2)
07th Mar 2019 22:38

We're led by numpties and donkeys. Making Tax Diabolical and Brexit a.k.a Project Unicorn, it's a toss up which is more of a shambles.

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08th Mar 2019 06:39

Yes you are right and there is no point on that which 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. Well, this brief guide really helped me in understanding the main problem. I am now going to share this with my social circle also tellthebell

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14th Mar 2019 08:34

We attended a course last week with SAGE & HMRC and were told that GDPR was the main reason for the lack of a list in the new ASA (clients might not want different members of staff viewing their data). I also asked the question was this on the Agenda and was told that it was not on HMRC's roadmap so unlikely to be addressed soon. Begs the question why if the new ASA could give HMRC a GDPR issue, what about our existing Agents portal which can be viewed by authorised staff etc.......?

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26th Mar 2019 20:54

This lack of a client list is frustrating. We are supposed to view each client record individually in our old agent account to find out whether they are MTD-enabled.... a bit backwards!

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