The one question that dominated AccountingWEB’s standing-room only MTD final push workshop in London on Tuesday was, How do I link up to my clients in the Agent Services Account?
Our event partner Intuit QuickBooks aims to provide some answers in an Agent Services Account webinar at 11am on Thursday 14 February.
HMRC’s deputy director of Making Tax Digital Clare Sheehan presented a progress report and the latest guidance from the department and fielded a number of questions about the Agent Services Account (ASA).
As she explained, setting up the account is a separate exercise to connecting with clients in the Making Tax Digital pilot, but you can’t make that step until the agent themselves is up and running with their own account.
During her presentation Sheehan went through the step-by-step sequence that agents needed to follow:
- Create an agent services account – guidance is available from GOV.UK and other sources including this IRIS guide on AccountingWEB.
- Link your clients to your agent services account. Once you have created an account, you will be assigned an agent account number that then needs to be re-entered into the system to link the new ID to existing client relationships for both VAT and Income Tax. This process happens internally within HMRC’s system.
- Once client authorisations are in place, the agent can sign them up for the Making Tax Digital pilot scheme. “This is a separate step from authorising them in your Agent Service Account. Linking them to your ASA will not put them into the pilot,” Sheehan told the audience.
- Authorise software so you can file on behalf of clients and receive data from HMRC servers via application programming interfaces (APIs).
The process is necessary because HMRC is trying to migrate business taxpayers and agents from the old government gateway that manages existing HMRC Online services to the new MTD infrastructure. The existence of the two separate systems and the additional need to authorise clients and software as well as the final step into MTD presents multiple potential stumbling points, and from the feedback on AccountingWEB and at Tuesday’s event, hundreds of accountants are encountering snags.
“Why are my clients not showing up when I view my agent account?” asked one delegate.
Sheehan replied that there were “some problems” with linking clients, but in most cases, existing clients “should go across easily”.
Another participant was concerned about having to renew authorisations if they set up a new ID in the Agent Services Account for VAT. “Will it link to other authorisations I hold for them or do I need to complete a new 64-8 for each of them?” the accountant asked.
Sheehan responded by urging agents to use the ASA instead and put away their paper 64-8 forms. “They are being replaced by the new system,” she said.
In response to wider demands for answers to such questions, QuickBooks has convened a webinar with HMRC's Verna Gellvear to go through all the steps required to set up an ASA account and answer any further questions about the process. AccountingWEB will be checking in and see you there at 11am on Valentine's day.
About John Stokdyk
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.