Government plans web gateway overhaul

HMRC leads new government gateway project
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With just over a year to go before Making Tax Digital (MTD) goes live - and only weeks ahead of the initial pilot scheme - HMRC government gateway programme director Mike Howes-Roberts revealed that the infrastructure that underpins online services for agents is going to be rebuilt.

In a blog post last month, Howes-Roberts explained that the existing government gateway maintained by the Department of Work and Pensions will be switched off in April 2018.

Before then, Howes-Roberts and his team will need to build a new identity engine and user traffic hub to control 123 government digital services catering for 50m active users.

HMRC alone accounts for 53 of the 123 services hosted on the existing government gateway.

Personal tax accounts will be unaffected, as they use the separate Verify identity service hosted on GOV.UK and fed by trusted third party agencies such as Verisign and The Post Office.

This means that taxpayers will be able to participate in the MTD pilot, but leaves agents who rely on the gateway for access to client data in the cold.

According to reports from specialist software developers, HMRC has been telling them not to expect the mechanisms for agents to interact with MTD systems to be in place until May 2018 - by which time some landlords will need to be filing their updates online.

In his blog, Howes-Roberts wrote, “I’m working through the detail with my team right now and working closely with other departments.  For me, that means a genuinely open door and an honest and candid dialogue.”

The government gateway transformation blog post was the latest episode in a long-running turf war between the Government Digital Service (responsible for GOV.UK) and HMRC.

"With everything that is going on with MTD this big change has kind of gone unnoticed by some," BTCSoftware director Rob Ellis told AccountingWEB.
In spite of Whitehall's back room dramas  Ellis, was confident specialist tax developers like BTC could cope.
"The government gateway transformation, whilst a big task for HMRC, should have no impact on end users of software which already interacts with the existing government gateway. That is provided HMRC fulfil their obligations to deliver the new service, and software vendors make the necessary changes in a timely fashion." 

Accountants, and their professional representatives and software suppliers might have a lot to say in the next 12 months.

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.


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16th Mar 2017 10:21

And given that agent services will not be live until (at least) May 2018, a month after mandation of MTD for some taxpayers, does this not demonstrate that the MTD timetable is woefully short. Even HMRC can't meet deadlines for when it starts.

Thanks (3)
By Tornado
to SteLacca
16th Mar 2017 13:32

"And given that agent services will not be live until (at least) May 2018"

And this is on the assumption that the Agent Services will actually be live by then. I would add another year onto that estimate which I think is a bit more realistic.

Thanks (0)
16th Mar 2017 10:43

We are all becoming punch drunk with the stream Government updates on MTD and the PROPOSED timescales .
Agents are an afterthought .
Are they planning to make us an ENDANGERED species

Thanks (3)
By Tornado
to paul train
16th Mar 2017 11:29

"Are they planning to make us an ENDANGERED species"

Just about all of us can see that MTD in its present proposed format will not work, especially in the current timescale, and it is only the Government that think it will.

I am therefore now quite laid back about it all as I know that it is inevitable there will be postponements, deferments, changes, concessions, etc, regardless of what legislation there may be in place.

In my view, MTD will not work without the full support of Accountants and other associated professionals, which they do not have at the moment, and far from being an endangered species, we will actually be the master key to the success of MTD and eventually the Government will acknowledge this.

For their sakes, I hope they acknowledge this sooner rather than later, or at least before mass confusion starts to interfere with their tax revenue streams.

I would also repeat my views from elsewhere on AWEB that MTD is entirely software driven and it is the Government that is 'designing' this software that we are going to be forced to use. The onus is therefore on the Government to make it all work properly, NOT us so our only obligation is to use it correctly to the extent that it works properly. It is not our responsibility if it does not work correctly.

Thanks (10)
16th Mar 2017 10:54

The worrying thing is that the British population is blissfully unaware of Making Tax Difficult. Taxpayers are going to be ambushed and presented with a fait accompli.

In the meantime the Government is steaming ahead with an ill thought out, badly resourced and unwanted scheme.

Thanks (6)
16th Mar 2017 11:03

First there was Class 4 and possibly soon behind will be MTD for turnovers below VAT threshold

Let's face it, they've given themselves that option by delaying to 2019

If Hammond thinks the Class 4 backlash was bad and u-turned quickly then it's not too big a jump to imagine it happening.

Perhaps MTD being annual with option for quarterly......

HMRC will soon realise the help we give them if we get cut off from our own clients tax data......

Thanks (3)
16th Mar 2017 12:00

"We've half finished the house - so lets replace the foundations".
Yet another example of the utter incompetence and amateurism of both HMRC and GDS.
How will they do this, having driven competent IT contractors off doing HMG projects? Plus every date they ever give slips by one or two tax years - that's if the things not cancelled after frittering away a few £m of taxpayer funds.
And the accounting profession that 'keeps people right' in a world where even HMRC don't know tax law ... well, we'll disenfranchise them at the outset just to see if we can do a bigger [***]-up than the last £m we wasted.
I weep .....

Thanks (5)
16th Mar 2017 13:03

Can you imagine getting a notification from Apple saying that our new upgrade will do x, y and z and you'll have to use it as we're withdrawing all the other versions, oh by the way we haven't actually built or tested it yet but rest assured it will work. The difference being of course with Apple you have a choice, whereas with HMRC...

Thanks (1)
16th Mar 2017 14:00

This maybe a stupid question, but HMRC asked agents for help volunteering taxpayers for the pilot - but how are agents to assist if they won't have MTD access until May 2018?

Thanks (1)
By Tornado
to kevinringer
16th Mar 2017 14:17

Telepathic Transfer (A grant is available for this).

Thanks (1)
to kevinringer
16th Mar 2017 22:47

Where has the may 2018 date come from ? I am not disputing it just wondering where it has come from. From a software developers point of view, agent support seems like it will be better under mtd and will be rolling out during the pilot

Thanks (0)
By Tornado
to daveforbes
16th Mar 2017 23:07

From the article -

"According to reports from specialist software developers, HMRC has been telling them not to expect the mechanisms for agents to interact with MTD systems to be in place until May 2018"

This implies that the developer software may be in place a long time before the HMRC software is in place to talk to it.

Have software developers been conned as well then? False expectations given by the Government to force developers to go faster than is really necessary?

Thanks (0)
to Tornado
17th Mar 2017 07:34

I think there is possibly some miscommunication somewhere. We are already testing the beta AgentClientAuthorisation API and ard believe it is scheduled go live as part of the pilot on May 3rd this year (i.e. 2017). That is the most fundamental part of mtd for agents from my point of view and Off the top of my head can't think of anything else agent specific that might be coming at a later date.

Thanks (0)
16th Mar 2017 14:55

I know I keep saying this... but where are the Institutes when you need them?

Thanks (3)
to Jennifer Adams
23rd Mar 2017 15:37

In the case of ICAEW they are too busy redesigning their logo to worry about minor issues like Making Tax difficult (surely they spent a fortune redesigning it a few years ago? Can they sue the original designers for getting it wrong? I haven't asked for a new design, the public hasn't asked for it, please can they reduce member red tape instead).

Thanks (0)
16th Mar 2017 14:56

Another typical waste of taxpayers money! Like alot of the governments digital aspirations, it will end up being over budget, over deadline. Whether it will be fit for purpose we shall see!

Thanks (1)
16th Mar 2017 20:13

Come on guys and girls......
If you want to have a train crash how much better is it to have two trains hitting each other head on?
So what if a few hundred agents get wiped out as collateral damage.

Thanks (2)
17th Mar 2017 10:09

All the following in under a year:

infrastructure that underpins online services for agents is going to be rebuilt.

Impossible, I feel very sorry for HMRC staff they are going to kop it, mainly from nutters like me, but there you go.

Thanks (1)
By 0098087
17th Mar 2017 11:28

they don't want Agents involved. They just want to screw the taxpayers over when they make mistakes

Thanks (1)
20th Mar 2017 06:07

I know I keep saying this... but where are the Institutes when you need them?

Thanks (1)
20th Mar 2017 16:49

Well I know where my institute (ICAEW) is on this. It has no bite any more! I really don't think the institute plays hard enough on these issues, it takes a soft approach which I feel does not make a point or have a hard enough impact!

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