Agent Services Account prepares to go live

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HMRC is currently testing the Agent Services Account with a small number of agents before launching it more widely later this summer.

A digital update from HMRC’s virtual communication group (PDF edition hosted on CIOT website) revealed in July that paper forms and postal applications are being replaced by fast and secure digital services for agents.

However, the digital update offered no further information about when project would go more widely into use.

When it does make its debut, the Agent Services Account will be the gateway to HMRC’s Making Tax Digital infrastructure and all its online facilities. Firms will need to create an Agent Services Account to connect their agents with their accounting software in order to access client tax information and share updates with HMRC.

Once the account is created firms can link their existing agent codes and from there. This system will replace paper 64-8 authorisation forms and firms will not be required to re-authorise when acting for existing self assessment clients.

To add a new client using the service, firms will submit a request through their software to the client, and the client will then accept or reject the request.

With the dramatic delay announced to the MTD timetable in July, some of the pressure to deliver key elements of the infrastructure has subsided. AccountingWEB members recently welcomed the availability of Self Assessment pre-population APIs (application programming interfaces) in some commercial systems, but developers are still waiting for many others. The link to connect commercial systems to the Agent Services registration process promised by the end of June has still not arrived.

Anyone who wants to get an update on where things stand on the API situation can register to take part in HMRC’s Talking Points webinar on the issue at noon on Friday 18 August.

Elsewhere, however, HMRC has become a hive of activity for all manner of digital submission mechanisms.

Online submissions replace paper forms

Recent communications from HMRC have highlighted its determination to purge paper from its processes and move submissions online. As reported last week, two-step verification is now mandatory for individual and business taxpayers, which makes it harder for advisers to access data from those accounts.

Kate Upcraft has also detailed how the Business Tax Account (BTA) will function in a separate article.

HMRC Agent Update 61 included details of other online systems that are now available and AccountingWEB members reported getting a message from HMRC this week informing them that from Tuesday 15 August, “We will only provide employment history information by telephone where that information is necessary to help you complete your client's self assessment return and you are unable to obtain it from them.”

Telephone requests are also now off the HMRC menu for paper copies of the SA302 tax calculation. The tax department said it has liaised with the Council of Mortgage Lenders to ensure they accept “self-service” copies of the calculation from the client’s online tax account or commercial software.

“Now that we have made all the changes required to allow agents to self-serve online we will no longer be issuing paper copies of the tax calculations directly to agents from the 4 September 2017,” in what the ICPA characterised as the death of the SA302.

Also up and running is Inheritance Tax online, a new mechanism for executors to update HMRC and apply for probate on their estate. The new service is available for personal representatives to apply for probate for people in England & Wales where no inheritance tax is payable on their estate.

Professional agents acting on behalf of clients will have to stick with existing paper processes.

Submission and claims processes for the venture capital schemes (EIS, SEIS and Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) are now undergoing private beta testing. A digital service to apply for such schemes is up and running and separate compliance statement submissions (forms EIS1 and SEIS1) will follow later this year.

A new Trusts Registration Service (TRS) is now operational for trustees to register their trust online. The mechanism is accessed using the individual’s government gateway credentials and replaces the 41G paper form, which was withdrawn at the end of April 2017. Agents will be able to register on behalf of trustees before October 2017 and services to report changes of circumstance and variations to trusts will follow.

The lack of support for agents under the TRS and IHT systems reflects a continuing blind spot at HMRC about the need to create services for taxpapers and their agents. The phased introductions complicate the situation for everyone and are creating a backlog of additional development work.

For example, any new trust with a tax consequence needs to be registered by 5 October 2017 and existing trusts will have to supply additional information through the new service to comply with the SA deadline on 31 January 2018.

About Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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17th Oct 2017 11:17

Can you please provide more information or links to any pages which explains what existing trusts will need to provide information wise in order to join this new register and comply with the SA deadline.

Thank you

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By Gideon
17th Oct 2017 11:45

Are there any updates on either Agent Services or Trust Registration. We are in the Beta for Agent Services but are unable to access our clients. We have been advised by the MTD team Trust Registration is on a controlled access Beta at present, so we are also unable to access that.

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06th Nov 2017 11:10

This is driving me crazy - we are told that we must register Trusts by a deadline (even those already registered with HMRC) but nothing works. As instructed I sent an email registering my 'interest' which gave me a link via which I now have a new Government Gateway ID and password as well as a new User ID and Account number (neither of which appear to be of any use or relevance)

The Online Service Helpdesk know nothing and believe there is a separate phone number but cannot find it

I can log in both to the Government gateway and HMRC online services using my new Gateway ID and password, but no clients or services are listed and when I try to add them the answer comes that this information is already in use.

What a Fxxx-up !!!!

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