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HMRC rolls out new client information service for agents

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HMRC has launched the Income Record Viewer, a new service for agents that provides access to information available to clients in their personal tax account, and which is not available to agents either online or by phoning the Agent Dedicated Line.

22nd Nov 2022
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Previously known as the Agent Income Record Viewer or PAYE Income Record Viewer, the Income Record Viewer provides agents with view-only access to clients’ pay and tax details and employment history for the current tax year and the four years preceding it

The Income Record Viewer will provide the following information, if available:

  • employments, occupational pensions, pay, tax and student loan deductions
  • tax code including all allowances and deductions
  • taxable benefits provided by an employer
  • information on underpaid tax
  • State retirement pension income.

Available now to all agents with an agent services account, the Income Record Viewer is accessible from the agent services account homepage (via the ‘view a client’s income record’ link).

To view the information HMRC holds for a particular tax year, agents will need to enter the client’s National Insurance number and then select the applicable year. 

Before agents can view details in the Income Record Viewer, they will need authorisation from each client via an authorisation link — this needs to be done once by each client.

The authorisation link will be triggered the first time an agent accesses the Income Record Viewer for a client. They will be asked to enter the clients’ National Insurance number and date of birth. According to HMRC,  this is to protect client security and comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) obligations.

Once the agent-client relationship is established via the link process, agents will be able to access income details for that client.

For more information on how to use the Income Record Viewer as an agent, view HMRC’s guidance.

Short-term hassle for long-term gain?

News of the new service received a mixed welcome from AccountingWEB members via a post on the Any Answers forum. Original poster WhiteRose asked: “do we know if it will have better data on it than the APIs used via my tax software? It involves getting a new authorisation from every client, not sure if it's going to be worth that extra work…”

Several members expressed frustration that existing authorisations for services such as self assessment or VAT didn’t work, so agents needed to authorise via the Government Gateway, which could be a stumbling block for some.

AccountingWEB member Crouchy stated that the reauthorisation was “a short-term hassle for a long-term gain”.

“You get full access to see what clients' income has been with each employer, any BIK and allowances claimed, pension info including state pension and any adjustments to tax codings etc,” commented Crouchy. “Saves us around 15-20 minutes per client by accessing the data online,” they added.

AccountingWEB regular rmilleree stated that the service was “actually better than you might imagine” as agents could access current tax codes being used – although they added that the “proof of the pudding” would be to find an example of where an employer is using wrong code and see if that is displayed on the system.

Former software developer Hugo Fair commented that the service is not intended to be an alternative or competitor to the API connections that serve much of the tax software landscape.

 

“Where it scores highly is in being updated in-year,” said Fair, “giving an employer-like perspective (including the tax code that *should* be in use).

“Whether you find that of any particular use/benefit will be dependent on your needs relating to a client's PAYE history, continued Fair. “If you want to 'look back' at previous years (or check whether the tax code used - per payslip/P60 - is the one issued by HMRC, or see how salary is shaping up so far in an incomplete year), then you will enjoy this.

“But if you just want to pull through 'officially endorsed' PAYE data from HMRC for a complete tax year, then the benefit to you is limited - and as yet unproven (in volume).”

New interactive tax code tool

HMRC has also introduced a new interactive tool to help taxpayers navigate their P2 coding notices and understand their tax position.

The new interactive tool responds to information provided by the taxpayer to give additional explanations relating to their tax code. This includes situations where a taxpayer’s tax code has changed.

Replies (21)

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By JustAnotherUser
22nd Nov 2022 10:53

Why this, why now?
The existing self-assessment API's currently in use by software suppliers, also use the existing agent authorisation, why not just create new API's and allow vendors to update the existing features to access client data?

Thanks (7)
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By Catherine Newman
22nd Nov 2022 11:07

I tried to download data (for the hell of it) for a Church of England pensioner in PTP yesterday. It only put an "X" in the transfer of the Married Couples Allowance. If clients can't find their forms or , in the case of pensioners who have, for example, Teachers Pensions and can't download them, they won't be able to do digital signatures.

Tom. your words "If available" say it all.

Thanks (3)
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By Ian McTernan CTA
22nd Nov 2022 11:50

Yet another thing we need to redo our authorisation for..no thanks. I'll just carry on using the flakey software link directly to my tax return software which fails regularly to show me salaries I know exist...

Why does HMRC have to make this so complicated? There is zero need to re authorise, it's just another hurdle put in our way.

Let's see what the potential time saving is: client sends me all the details, I check against existing figures, enter all the missing information, 5 minutes. It's just PAYE details, no thinking involved. Alternatively, get client to authorise: 15-30 minutes, depending on how many times we need to try, then find the information, then print it off/pdf it for a permanent record, then enter it into our software.

Without the authorisation process it might have made sense to have this available- as it is, that's a lot of time to spend for very little if any gain.

Thanks (8)
Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
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By fozia
24th Nov 2022 09:27

Agreed, if they want us to change, it had better be worthwhile. The income viewer like everything else in the "new" ASA doesn't even have a client list to search on so we can at least see who should / shouldn't be on our list. Some nonsense about security - seriously! Even after having been authorised (several) times. What good is the authorisation then if we have to jump through hoops just to get basic information??

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
22nd Nov 2022 12:00

Nice service, rubbish interface.

If this was a commercial product no-one would buy it.

What is wrong with client lists, rather than expecting to enter details, whether its a VAT number of in this case NINO. This extra step is all added user time, and smacks of not caring about the agent's experience. HMRC have not listened given the similarly poor interfaces for other services.

I tried this on my own SA account, and I was shocked to see it expected me to go through the whole passport and other ID rubbish game just to add myself to the agent account for my practice to which I am already authorised. I don't buy the "GDPR" excuse. That seems to be one of those lies that are wheeled out to cover poorly thought out systems.

No doubt in 6 months HMRC will stop answering phone questions on any of this, citing the existence of the product which only technically able clients will be able to access.

Thanks (6)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By RFL H
22nd Nov 2022 13:40

The obvious solution would have been to add the option to the SA screen for each client, thereby making it easy for us to access and obviating the need to authorise again.

Thanks (10)
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By Jane Wanless
22nd Nov 2022 12:51

I phoned the Agent Helpline yesterday, and while on hold, one of the recorded messages was that they wouldn't help with anything the taxpayer (did they say customer? I don't remember) could get from their Digital Account. Is it all part of being less and less helpful/useful?

Thanks (11)
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By Catherine Newman
22nd Nov 2022 14:29

Wait for it----It says on the Agent Forum that no agent should be digitally excluded as agents have to deal with HMRC through MTD, which is "a digital service". Try telling that to people who can't even get internet.

Thanks (2)
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By GHarr497688
22nd Nov 2022 16:10

Tried it and like nearly all HMRC Systems it didn't work. I think the IT people at HMRC are just securing their jobs by selling these fads to the "high ups". Ridiculous.

Thanks (3)
By SteveHa
23rd Nov 2022 08:32

Quote:
The authorisation link will be triggered the first time an agent accesses the Income Record Viewer for a client. They will be asked to enter the clients’ National Insurance number and date of birth. According to HMRC, this is to protect client security and comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) obligations.

What complete and utter BS. Where we already have authorisation, that authorisation applies equally to this for GDPR purposes. HMRC's insistence on separate authorisations for everything (CGT, this viewer, to talk to us etc.) is getting beyond a joke, and their excuses have a funny smell to them.

Thanks (3)
Replying to SteveHa:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
23rd Nov 2022 18:08

it really is ridiculous.

its bad enough doing seperate VAT, PAYE, CT, SA authorisations for a new client, but at least that is just a bunch of letters in the post to them, they dont need to *do* anything complex.

They second you get into it being effectively compulsory to have a digital tax account to access services you are actively regulating a sizeable minority of the small business population into digital second tier. This is deeply unfair, and i would have thought a much bigger breach of pretty much any accessibility, equal rights of access legislation. Much more so than any pathetic GDPR worries.

Thanks (2)
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By WhiteRose
23rd Nov 2022 11:53

The Agent Dedicated Line now has a message which says that it can only be used for queries which cannot be answered through online tools or the personal tax account. It also says that it cannot be used to progress chase, or to ask for tax or employment history.
So that's that really.

Thanks (3)
Replying to WhiteRose:
By SteveHa
23rd Nov 2022 15:47

Ive been on to the AH today, and asked for a complaint about them only being able to send information directly to the taxpayer irrespective of authorisation be escalated as far as it needs to be before someone will talk to me.

I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks (1)
Replying to WhiteRose:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
23rd Nov 2022 18:10

WhiteRose wrote:

The Agent Dedicated Line now has a message which says that it can only be used for queries which cannot be answered through online tools or the personal tax account. It also says that it cannot be used to progress chase, or to ask for tax or employment history.
So that's that really.

Back to writing letters then.

Thanks (1)
Replying to WhiteRose:
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By Swabber
24th Nov 2022 09:19

Yes but they still do help when I get through

Thanks (1)
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By D Rixson
24th Nov 2022 09:18

The 'if available' says it all.
It's frustrating that you will need to re-authorise every client to be able to use the service.

Thanks (2)
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By Jason - Accountant
24th Nov 2022 10:08

This is another rubbish HMRC attempt at something. What a waste of time. Love to know what they spent on it. Getting authorisation for this specific process seems excessive but I thought I’d try as what harm is a letter in the post to the client with an activation code… nah doesn’t work that way… your client needs their own HMRC login and you email them a link and they authorise the connection via that… never going to work!

Thanks (2)
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By indomitable
24th Nov 2022 11:21

I'll say it again HMRC not fit for purpose, until the government gets hold of the civil service nothing will change.

All these initiatives should have been stopped before they got started. There appears to be no-one sensible managing HMRC.

And in the meantime the core duties of HMRC - getting taxes right, answering the phone, sorting out the appalling online systems, chasing tax that is not due (agent accounts, agent services account, CGT reporting sales of residential properties, ATED reporting................need I go on) DON'T WORK

Thanks (2)
Morph
By kevinringer
25th Nov 2022 10:11

Tom, how does the IRV work for the digitally excluded?

I have been filing digital tax returns for 100% of my clients since 1998. Though I am digital, the majority of my clients are not (HMRC has already granted exemption from MTD for over half my VAT clients) so are unable to access their PTA to authorise me. When HMRC devised SA, the 64-8 gave me digital authority as well as non-digital. Only this year, HMRC redesigned the 64-8 so that it would give me digital (as well as non-digital authority) for employer's PAYE and contractor's CIS. The 2022 redesigned 64-8 now includes a separate section for employee PAYE. But that is non-digital only. Given that the redesign was this year, why doesn't this also give access to the IRV?

Thanks (0)
Morph
By kevinringer
25th Nov 2022 12:57

HMRC say the SA API will only download pay and tax after HMRC have carried out their PAYE reconciliation, which could be any time June to September after the tax year. HMRC have often been challenged about this because HMRC say agents/taxpayers should use the P60 and the P60 won't be altered no matter what the outcome of HMRC's PAYE reconciliation is. So if the P60 is ok, why do we have to wait for the PAYE reconciliation before the SA API is populated?

Apparently the IRV pay and tax will be available before the PAYE reconciliation is done. This is consistent with the use of the P60 and adds further argument against HMRC's stance on the SA API population.

But the SA API has never fully worked and currently fails for about a third of my clients. I have reported this to HMRC on the Forum and HMRC have confirmed something is not working correctly, but they don't know what. I've just run the SA API for a client for whom the SA API worked prior to 2021 but has failed for 2021 and 2022. This supports the general view that the number of SA API failed cases increases annually.

This is the 6th year we've had the SA API yet the problems reported right at the outset have never been fixed. Doesn't fill me with confidence about the IRV.

Thanks (0)
Replying to kevinringer:
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By Catherine Newman
25th Nov 2022 15:37

I tried to run the API in PTP today as I need clarification whether a payment was a pension or employment and nothing came down in spite of one pension being EDF and the other whatever it is being Worcestershire County Council. To crown it all I looked at what I can see online from HMRC and it said "No PAYE codes available" when the client has a state pension and an occupational pension. I have had to ask the client.

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