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HMRC issues Income Record Viewer reminder to agents

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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.

22nd Nov 2023
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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.

Authorisation frustration

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.

Replies (10)

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By Homeworker
22nd Nov 2023 15:44

"The client must then complete the process by logging into their government gateway account".
When I first heard about the Income Record Viewer I thought Great, this will be really useful, but I have never used it and am unlikely to do so since most of the clients I have left are elderly (I am close to retirement myself) and do not want the hassle of trying to set up a PTA. I moved away from most of our clients some years ago and so cannot go round and help them to do this.

Thanks (3)
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By tanyajackson
23rd Nov 2023 10:06

The very clients this would be helpful for, are the ones that wouldn't be able to manage the authorisation process.
Client's should provide their accountant's with all their tax information anyway, so why don't they just add it to the agent's account as part of the initial authorisation. Accountants could tweek their Terms and LOE, HMRC could tweek the authorisation code letter to say access is being granted for xyz.
So simple, but £10trillion later, it may become useful, outdated or scrapped.

Thanks (3)
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By Inspiron246
23rd Nov 2023 10:23

Good in theory, but why should the agent have to go through the authorisation process again on their Agent Services Account for clients they already hold authority for through their Online Services for Agents Account? Arguably this is harder to do as it requires the client to set up a Government Gateway in order to accept the authorisation. Not sure what I prefer, the prehistoric code through the post or the barrage of questions when the client can’t set up their own gateway!

Thanks (6)
stonks
By WinterDragon
23rd Nov 2023 10:54

I've found the information you get through the income record viewer is worth the additional effort of applying for (yet another) authority. My colleague is of an opinion similar to my fellow Awebbers that the elderly can't cope with the process and it's too complicated - and for some this is definitely the case (mostly the ones that still use flip phones and have never used a computer). However, I get frustrated with clients who claim to not be able to cope with any technology but seem to get on just fine with the right motivation.
When Martin Lewis started his campaign on checking your NI contributions and topping up your state pension then I found countless clients who claimed they'd never cope with any technology and didn't want to bother suddenly found the computer skills to be able to do so. The main problem is purely attitude in that taxpayers and accountants don't want to and because they think they can't, so they won't and refuse to even try.

Thanks (1)
Replying to WinterDragon:
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By Southwestbeancounter
23rd Nov 2023 11:36

I did find that when the SEISS grants were offered that all of a sudden clients with no smartphones or PCs etc had email addresses and internet access after all!

One quick question WinterDragon please - presumably doing the 'digital handshake' for the Agents Service Account doesn't affect their records in the usual Agents Government Gateway account etc i.e. the clients records don't drop of that list or anything daft?

Thanks (1)
Replying to Southwestbeancounter:
stonks
By WinterDragon
23rd Nov 2023 11:49

A very good point you raise, it's all about client motivation and making their accountant's life easier doesn't seem to be on the top of many priority lists - probably because we're all miserable gits that criticise each other.

In my experience the digital handshake has never upset the usual SA authority on the old online services for agent account and it's a separate system. I usually say when onboarding new clients, the digital handshake gives us the information to put together the return and the code in the post gives us the ability to file. Not technically accurate but it helps sell the process to the client.

Thanks (1)
Replying to WinterDragon:
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By Southwestbeancounter
23rd Nov 2023 12:03

Ah that's great, thanks Winter Dragon!

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Replying to WinterDragon:
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By Homeworker
23rd Nov 2023 12:59

I agree that not all older clients are incapable of setting up PTAs (I am in my 70s myself and managed to do so) but I have several clients in their 80s and 90s and a (perhaps) surprising number have let properties, some of which have been sold since the CGT reporting requirements changed. Some have tried and failed to set up PTAs to deal with this and I have had to request paper CGT forms to declare the disposals, which is in itself an unwanted hassle.

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Replying to Homeworker:
stonks
By WinterDragon
24th Nov 2023 13:06

The CGT topic is certainly one that I'd agree with you on. Most of my cynicism is directed towards those that can't be bothered to keep their paperwork in order nor use online systems to assist in the process. I still feel hungover from some VAT registered clients that did everything they could to resist using commercial software then complained about training fees because they left it until the last possible minute.
I remember seeing in an agent update how to apply for a paper CGT form to declare gains on property and it was ~15 steps requiring something like 3 phone calls to HMRC from the client. A needless excercise resulting in additional anxiety and delay.

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By Ralphgab
23rd Nov 2023 15:06

Does this include CIS income and deductions? If not, why not?
In the past I have found it impossible to get CIS information from HMRC.

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