Making Tax Digital: How to set up agent services

HMRC agent services setup
Making Tax Digital_HMRC
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On its recent Making Tax Digital roadshow, IRIS presented a detailed set of instructions on how practitioners would need to set up an agent services account to access client data within the new regime.

All of the pilot MTD services so far have been tailored for businesses and individuals, but when agents are invited to participate they will need to create an agent services account and gain online authorisation from clients to work on their behalf.

Each of these actions is a one-off event, but authorisation needs to happen for each individual client for the practitioner’s software to be able to collect data from the client’s HMRC tax account.

IRIS chief product and marketing officer Nick Gregory has joined the chorus of industry voices calling for more outreach and education work from HMRC. To fill that gap, IRIS has been stepping up its efforts, for example by running its series of MTD roadshows during July and August.

“Much as there is a propensity to wait, delaying client education and helping them implement the right tools will only cause widespread client upheaval in the coming months,” Gregory said. “With a little strategic thinking, it is possible to manage the day-to-day business and client journeys as we move to a digital economy.”

Gregory highlighted four steps to ensuring clients are ready for MTD VAT: analysing the client base; educating clients; consulting on bookkeeping tools; and training.

But signing up for HMRC agent services represents one more hurdle practitioners need to negotiate. To help them overcome this challenge, IRIS has prepared the following step-by-step guide:

Step 1

Agents must sign up for an agents services account, this is done via a web journey on the GOV.UK webpages:

Sign in or set up screen

As part of setting up your agent services account, you will receive a new government gateway user ID and password. You should use this to access new HMRC digital services, including MTD. You should continue to use your existing GG log in and password for all the services you currently use it for.

As part of this sign up you will be required to:

1. Sign in using your current user credentials

Current user credentials

2. Enter your business type.

Business type

3. Enter your UTR or Corporation Tax reference and postcode

Enter your UTR

4. Confirm that the correct business is displayed

Confirm business name

5. Enter your details

Enter your details

6. Enter the agency address by entering the House name or number and postcode.

Enter agency address

7. Select address

Select address

8. Confirm your address

Confirm your address

  1. Confirm your details are correct
  2. Make a note of your Government Gateway

Make note of government gateway


Step 2

Once you have your new account you will be able to link your existing client relationships for both VAT and Income Tax to these new credentials, again it will not remove the client authorisation from your existing credentials. This mapping process is carried out in the same government web screens and is currently not possible via software. 

The steps required are:

  1. In the Agents Service Account; select the link “Allow this account to access existing client relationships”

Link agent services account

  1. Enter your User ID and Password (the old ones, not the new one created above)

Sign in

  1. Enter your new ARN received in the last step in the agents services account setup
  2. Enter your UTR or Corporation Tax Reference

Connect your account

  1. Click Connect

Once you have completed these steps you will be able to register client for taxes and sign them up to the MTDfB Service, allowing them to be a part of MTD for VAT and/or Income Tax. 

Step 3  

Each business will need to register for MTD and this is again done via government web pages. Your clients can register themselves for MTD VAT and/or Income Tax or you can register them, but the process must be completed one client at a time, as their personal information must be entered as part of the registration.

IRIS will be presenting more information about MTD and much else besides at IRIS World events in London, Manchester and Glasgow in October.

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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30th Aug 2018 11:31

We have been trying to set this up for some time in order to deal with HMRC trust registration.
So far (August 2018) we have been unable to proceed past the screen shown under line 10 of Step 1.
When I click on "Continue..." I get an error message saying "Sorry, we are experiencing technical difficulties
Please try again in a few minutes."
HMRC support are looking into it.
From my conversations with various HMRC support personnel, we are by no means the only agent experiencing difficulties.
We have been given no indication as to when this will be working.
In the meantime I have been told not to worry about late trust registration penalties.

Thanks (2)
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30th Aug 2018 11:53

Waiting till all the 'issues' have been ironed out.

Been there before!

Thanks (1)
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30th Aug 2018 11:54

Could HMRC really have gone ahead with MTD last April as originally planned and will they be able to go ahead with the much more limited MTD for VAT next April.

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to anthonystorey
30th Aug 2018 13:30

No.
No.
Next question please.

Thanks (1)
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By ACCNOTT
30th Aug 2018 12:04

Where exactly do I register my client / does each client have to register for Making Tax Digital

Thanks (0)
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to ACCNOTT
11th Oct 2018 10:15

I am not an agent or expert, but it looks like from the article above that each of your clients has to register for MTD for VAT (although that may not be right and I am not sure when we are supposed to do that - HMRC has not written to me yet about it so I just currently have my normal HMRC account on line VAT and personal tax return) and once they have done then you key in their details presumably to link your agent account to theirs but I like many clients will be holding off registration until HMRC has specified the software/bridging software and it is available to download so it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation at present/ a stand off

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30th Aug 2018 12:30

Am I correct in thinking that the agent service account is separate from the account I had to create for TRS and the one I had to create for my own AML renewal?

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By cathyne
30th Aug 2018 12:43

I too had to do this to register a trust, all of which seemed OK. But I am now faced with a list of services as per the GG account, but I am unable to Access them. The so-say Webchat help, had nothing to offer as to how proceed, as I seem unable to enrol for each service either with the new AS account.

Maybe someone can point me in the right direction?

Thanks (3)
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30th Aug 2018 13:39

Two things to be aware of that HMRC have not made public!
1) If, as an agent, you are already enrolled for the Trust Registration Service, you will already be able to access the new agent services account;
2) If you add clients to the new agent services account, their returns will have to be filed using MTD software!
And finally, if the agent UTR is for a partnership, you are potentially allowing staff to see the tax position of the partners!

Thanks (4)
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to Ruth E Corkin
30th Aug 2018 14:37

Wow, that is incredible. What an absolute fiasco. So much for GDPR!

Surely someone at the professional bodies must make some representations about this.

Thanks (1)
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to Ruth E Corkin
31st Aug 2018 12:08

Hello Ruth
With regards point 2, if we add clients to the new agent services account resulting in their returns having to be filed using MTD software, is there an option to remove them so that the requirement is "cancelled" or is it irreversible. Also, does that just relate to MTD VAT or for self-assessment clients, too?
Yours "Worried from Cornwall"

Thanks (0)
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to Patricia McCartney
07th Sep 2018 13:38

Here is part of the reply that I got from the team dealing with this:

"So if you have already signed up for your agent services account for Trusts, you don't need to do this again‎ to use MTD services through software.

If you have new clients who you want to sign straight up to MTD, then you can use the new digital authorisation‎ service accessed through the agent services account. This does only create an authorisation for MTD and not old portal services, so if you don't want to bring them into MTD just yet, it would be best to use the existing process.
Once you have your software in place and want to sign up existing clients to MTD‎, you can do this direct from gov.UK. And yes, you are right - once you sign an existing or new client up to MTD VAT they will need to start using software to submit their returns."
Not sure how you remove them once in.

Thanks (1)
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to Ruth E Corkin
07th Sep 2018 13:40

I think it does apply to SA as well if you have added the clients via the new agent services account.

Thanks (1)
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By Mallock
to Ruth E Corkin
06th Sep 2018 10:57

If individual partner's details are "exposed" I presume that as a sole trader, my staff will also be able to see all my tax information and details if I set up my agent record. I think i'll be making a report to the Information Commissioner!
Surely this has to be changed and changed now.

Thanks (1)
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to Mallock
11th Oct 2018 10:18

This is one reason I don't use the cloud and keep paper records - they are very hard to hack or for 100,000 public esctor workers to snoop on - let us not forget HMRC lost the hcild benefit database and even in 2018 is being investigated for breach of data protection law because of taking voice records without proper consent.

A point Moore Stephens made in an article I saw today here https://www.moorestephens.co.uk/news-views/october/making-tax-digital-fo... is that those moving to cloud systems may not realise they tend to get free storage for 2 years but have to pay after that (my paper records cost nothing to store upstairs!) and that they must keep them for 6 years +

Thanks (0)
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30th Aug 2018 17:07

Yes, the I raised it at a co-working group for the next stage of the Agent Services platform. The co-design team held the MTD agent services account up as progress.....until I pointed out that the MTD agent page did not refer to VAT at all! The current "new" version of the Agent Services Account is only temporary apparently(for that read "a fudge" for MTD!). The new new version will be a single stop "front door" offering!
Off to do some "blue sky" thinking and "run that flag up the pole"!

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30th Aug 2018 19:04

Yes well... I think I'll wait a while until the problems are ironed out (if they ever are that is) but that is another subject

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01st Sep 2018 18:49

Thank you John for a useful article

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By davexyz
03rd Sep 2018 11:18

What is the situation for "overseas" agents/Accountancy practices who do not have a UK UTR. How do they register as an MTD agent?

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13th Sep 2018 09:08

Do we have any companies named as providing simple bridging software yet forthose using excel and paper records currently?

The HMRC list updated just this week just gives a massive list of providern ames but does not say who offers purely that service rather than the more detailed cloud etc based services which many want to avoid.

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By djtax
to EnglishRose
19th Sep 2018 14:35

Bridging software - I believe this is being looked at by at least the following - BTC, Liquid Accounts and Tim Good's outfit Absolute though I have so far failed to actually find and see any live versions on the market.

Thanks (1)
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to EnglishRose
20th Sep 2018 10:02

I know of four in the list that are providing that software:

Aark
Tax Automation
PwC
Grant Thornton

Thanks (1)
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to EnglishRose
20th Sep 2018 10:02

I know of four in the list that are providing that software:

Aark
Tax Automation
PwC
Grant Thornton

Thanks (0)
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to Ruth E Corkin
21st Sep 2018 10:12

Many thanks to you both. I have made a note and when HMRC says it approves bridging software I will have a look. I need something for someone who likes all my records on paper and hate excel even.....

Thanks (0)
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13th Sep 2018 09:08

Do we have any companies named as providing simple bridging software yet forthose using excel and paper records currently?

The HMRC list updated just this week just gives a massive list of providern ames but does not say who offers purely that service rather than the more detailed cloud etc based services which many want to avoid.

Thanks (0)
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28th Sep 2018 11:02

Quick update:
The list on HMRC's website is only those who have filed successfully and the final list may be shorter!
Agents can add clients to the new agent services account and still file using the existing portal. (Signing clients up for MTD is an additional step) However, you won't be able to see your client list in the main agent services account as this has to be managed via software.
Current portal was closed for a while so that HMRC could update their systems and it has not been closed down/removed/discontinued/deactivated (which was what one of my team was told!)
Those under the turnover limit for MTD will need to "self-certify" that they are exempt. Their portal access will remain open unless they choose to use MTD.
Sage 50 will deal with VAT groups but no details on costs.

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10th Oct 2018 19:46

People may want to tell the Giovernment their views on making VAT digital (they are specifically asking with a deadline of 9 December in a consultation about business tax a response to which I just submitted). There is a 9 December deadline.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa...

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to EnglishRose
21st Feb 2019 12:30

Just to update my HMRC letter arrived today 21 Feb. It does not tell you you will have to pay to buy software. Just ays "you will need to keep your VAT records digitally and sumit VAT returns using software that works with Making Tax Digital". It does not even link you to the HMRC massive long list of a vast nmber of software providers that presumably takes about 5 hours to go through to pick a product.

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