HMRC issues Income Record Viewer reminder to agentsby
Ahead of the self assessment rush, HMRC has prompted agents to use its Income Record Viewer tool and flagged recent changes to extend the tax code data shown on the system from the current year to the previous four tax years.
Writing in Agent Update 114, HMRC reminded agents that ahead of “the busiest time of year for self assessment”, they can use its Income Record Viewer tool to access client information for their tax return.
The tax authority also highlighted it had extended the tax code data shown on the Income Record Viewer from the current year only to now showing the previous four tax years.
Launched last year, the Income Record Viewer is a service for agents that provides access to information available to clients in their personal tax account but not available to agents either online or via the Agent Dedicated Line.
This includes PAYE, employment records, student loan repayments, tax code information for the current tax year including all allowances and deductions, taxable benefits provided by an employer, state and private pension information, and details of any underpaid tax and other debts.
AccountingWEB members have reported positive experiences using the Income Record Viewer, with the ability to access client data online saving time in the run-up to the self assessment deadline.
However, feedback about the system has centred on the authorisation process and the fact that agents now require multiple client authorisations to view all the data needed to complete client returns.
To access the service, agents must generate a link from their agent services account and email it to the client. The client must then complete the process by logging into their government gateway account, and the details of that account have to match the data inputted to create the authorisation link.
The Revenue has also produced a short video that agents can pass on to clients to guide them through the authorisation process.
Digitally excluded clients unable to complete online authorisations can contact the relevant helpline, which will make a referral to HMRC’s Extra Support Team.
PAYE and Income Record Viewer authorisations are held on different HMRC systems, with separate client authorisations needed for each.
“We appreciate it may be frustrating for you to source two separate authorisations and for your clients to provide them,” wrote HMRC in its latest update to agents. “We’ll continue to look for ways to make digital authorisations simpler and more efficient in the future and we’ll keep you updated on our progress.”
A mixed verdict
More generally, AccountingWEB readers using the Income Record Viewer have given the new system a mixed verdict, as summed up by an Any Answers thread on the topic posted earlier this year.
AccountingWEB member ArronfHarrison stated they had used it extensively in January and the system was “a real godsend for confused clients”.
Taxadvisercarlisle called it a “frustrating” process: “The kind of clients this would be helpful for are exactly the ones who are unlikely to have a government gateway account,” they said.
Several compared it favourably to HMRC’s application-program-interface-driven service, which has been designed to pre-populate commercial tax software with data to save agents time by removing the need to manually key in the figures.
Accounting practices filing client returns ahead of the 31 January deadline earlier this year flagged a decline in the performance of service, with several outages and a reduction in successful data retrievals compared with previous years.