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HMRC to update direct debit and access controls

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HMRC has added a number of new forms to its online menu, but also alerted agents this month to features that will give them the abilty to manage who can see which client accounts online; and at long last, business clients will be able to set up direct debit mandates in their tax accounts.

29th Jul 2022
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For the third weekend this month, HMRC will be taking its MTD platform offline for scheduled maintenance between 5pm on Friday 29 July until 6pm on Sunday the 31st.

According to HMRC’s spokesperson, “Scheduled maintenance on any HMRC systems are generally routine and very low level in terms of the change customers will see.” Yet alongside all of this maintenance work, the tax department has enhanced several areas of online services.

HMRC’s Agent Bulletin 98, published on 20 July detailed seven different online improvements now in place or due soon. Some changes involved new online filing forms, or the long-awaited addition of a variable direct debit payment instruction. But one planned change to the Agent Services Account (ASA) identity controls will be of great interest to accountancy practitioners and tax advisers preparing for MTD for income tax.

Problems with multiple sign-ins have undermined the ASA for several years, mainly because Verify, the government’s previous preferred identity control, was unable to cope with different users who logged in using the same agent identity.

What HMRC is calling “granular permissions” functionality is being developed to give ASA administrators the ability to control who can access client records on HMRC’s systems.

The access control is intended for small to medium sized agents, with up to 1,000 employees and will enable the firm’s admin account to groups into which they can add clients and internal team members who need to work on their online tax files.

The new access controls are undergoing testing ahead of a rollout to the wider agent community, HMRC said.

Direct debit mandates - coming soon

Also in the “coming soon” category is a new “Set up a direct debit” function within the Business Tax Account. Client businesses will be able to use this feature to authorise HMRC to take money from their bank accounts based on figures in their tax submissions.

“There is no agent journey,” for this feather, HMRC noted. “Only employers will be able to create, view, amend and cancel a direct debit.” 

The direct debit facility is due to be implemented by mid-September at the latest.

Online features highlighted in Agent Services 98

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By Hugo Fair
29th Jul 2022 16:23

"What HMRC is calling “granular permissions” functionality is being developed to give ASA administrators the ability to control who can access client records on HMRC’s systems."

Well it's good to see such rapid progress ... I've just searched my files and found that the "Start up meeting for Identity Assurance (IDA) working group" was on Monday 3 June 2013!
One of the early side-shoots from this was when we got HMRC to acknowledge exactly the problem mentioned above (multiple sign-ins by different users logging in using the same agent identity) ... but it took another 2 years before it was all kicked into the long grass for future consideration.
So it'll be interesting to observe what transpires after such a lengthy gestation?

BTW: "access control is intended for small to medium sized agents, with up to 1,000 employees".
No wonder HMRC give undue attention to whispers from the big boys (and girls) if they think an agent with 1,000 employees is an SME in this context.
Do they have any idea (indeed do they care) about the disparity in resources & technological prowess across the range of differently sized Agents. No question-mark, that's rhetorical!

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
29th Jul 2022 18:03

6pm Friday 29th - just to point out an error in the original article, which said the maintenance work would start at 9am on Saturday. I was wrong - the notification that the MTD platform was offline arrived in my email in-tray before I stopped work this afternoon. Enjoy an MTD-free weekend, all, and thanks for the pointers on those two issues, Hugo.

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