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Tax Agent Strategy

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It might be winter outside but there’s a spring in our step after a very productive period of work on the Agent Strategy. There’s still work to do but I wanted to give you a quick update on where we are.

Our Journey Together

In 2011, we consulted on our Agent Strategy and published the responses. We held workshops and attended events across the UK throughout 2012, including talking to IT specialists to better understand your digital needs. This developed through 2013 into more detailed practical working with agent representatives in a number of groups.

The groups are working with us to come up with solutions around how the new digital services will work for agents, how we move from existing systems to new ones and how we know what good looks like for the customer, agent and HMRC. Part of that isunderstanding what the statistics from HMRC systems tell us and don’t tell us.

What’s it all about?

The most popular request we had from the consultation is the ‘Agent Online Self Serve’. This will be a new online service that will give you access to HMRC on behalf of your clients and see the information they can see. No more wrestling with the 64-8 paper and online processes. Over the next couple of years it will be easier, quicker and simpler to give us and receive the information we all need.

Agent Online Self Serve will ensure you can continue to act on behalf of your clients through digital channels once we’ve confirmed your identity and that you’re authorised to act.  We are exploring how the identity assurance processes will work, and how agents and a potential customer can then identify each other online as supplier and customer. This will enable an individual or business to identify the agent they are authorising and the agent to activate the client relationship, all online. We have to balance being able to give legitimate agents access to do their client’s business with HMRC as quickly and effectively as possible and also preserve confidentiality, prevent inappropriate disclosure and guard against criminal attacks. So we are working with the cross-government work on Identity Assurance, to ensure that agents come through a robust assurance process and into our new digital services.

We are also working very closely with agent professional bodies on the Joint Tax Agent Strategy Steering Group to explore what ‘Agent and Client Statistics’ can tell us about industry standards. We are running a number of small pilots to use data to target tailored support and education to agents that would benefit the most. Does supporting an agent with education, toolkits and so on result in improved performance? How can we recognise and sign up to what ‘good’ looks like together? What do you think?

Next steps

We have started to share some screen shots of the new agent service with a few agents. As we progress we will ask more agents to test the functions, to tell us what works, what doesn’t, what’s missing, where the terminology doesn’t cut it for you and so on.

As you can see, there’s a lot of work to be getting on with and lots of questions to be answered!

What do you need to know about the Agent Strategy and Agent Online Self Serve?

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  1. Comment by Margaret Schofield posted on

    Being asked for feedback on specific items as they are developed and a general update on how matters are progressing.

  2. Comment by Colin Lothian CTA posted on

    Yes thanks Jenny, clearly the present CT on-line authorisation process is not fit for purpose. The sooner this is rolled out the better for us all.

  3. Comment by Simon Young posted on

    What about educating your staff? And whenever someone writes to us can we have a direct dial number so we can speak to the person who actually wrote the letter? Talking of phones: if I call it is because I wish to speak to someone, I do not like messages telling me to look on the website - just put me straight through please. And what is the point of "generic" RTI notices? If we waste our time looking at them who will pay us for our time when actually nothing needs to be done and we are following the current rules?
    Dealing with HMRC is so stressful and annoying

    • Replies to Simon Young>

      Comment by jennycowles posted on


      Thanks for responding to our post. We currently offer a number of bespoke services for agents, including the Agent’s Issue Resolution Service. You need to register for this service, which is simple to do, then once you have submitted your client-specific issue one of our Agent Account Managers (AAMs) will be in touch. They will keep you informed of the progress of your issue And you are given a contact telephone number and email address to contact them on that specific issue. As well as the AAM service we also have the Agent Dedicated Line. Again this is a service for agents to use where our trained staff will help resolve your taxpayer-specific queries. You can call on 0300 200 3311. This line is open from 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday and 8.00am to 4.00pm on Saturday.

  4. Comment by Ken Howard posted on

    Re "self serve" for agents, what is the rationale for "approved" agents to be VAT registered businesses? What on earth has the VAT registration status of the agent got to do with it? This will severely impact the hundreds/thousands of smaller practices and "one man" agents who are too small to be VAT registered - they are left with a choice of registering for VAT or not being a registered agent - thus increasing fees by 20% for their clients or risk losing their clients to other "approved" firms.

    • Replies to Ken Howard>

      Comment by ruthbulteel posted on

      You’ll be pleased to hear that we currently have no plans for VAT registration to influence the level of access agents will have to future digital services. We are working closely with the Government’s Identity Assurance (IDA) programme (mentioned in the blog) to ensure people can affirm their identity online safely and securely - providing the right level of security for our customers and HMRC.

  5. Comment by Joe posted on

    Please, please, please look at the CIS issue regarding CT offset and Payroll.
    A payroll must be submitted on or before the payment date which often falls at the EOM but the CIS is prepared up to the 5th of the following month and final details for CIS are rarely known until a week later. This means we can never make the RTI deadline with the correct PAYE due. While I appreciate small businesses have been given a break from monthly penalties for late filing next year, this is never going to work in the current form. Please consider an RTI filing deadline for payroll the same as CIS ie; by the 19th of the following month.
    Also, please look into the current process re: offset of CIS Tax suffered and CTax due - this is a nightmare. Thank you.