Making Tax Digital

It is important to keep a record of your actions in case you are later subject to some kind of fine or penalty for a compliance failure. After spending many days on trying to become compliant for Making Tax Digital for VAT I have decided to retain an online record of my efforts to be tax compliant.

By Nichola Ross Martin CTA FCA (Fellow) (all views expressed here are mine and mine alone!).

I have added a lot of what I have found into the help pages in our Making Tax Digital zone.

As at 6 June it has taken me ten different attempts to register ourselves as taxpayers. I am still waiting for HMRC to contact me since last week. I cannot get through on the phone as I cannot keep holding for that long. I know think that my email is blocked on some part of HMRC's system but if it is the blockage is inconstent. I may try and sign up another company tomorrow and I might try the phone line again if we are not too busy.

Registering as a business

Trying to sign up for Making Tax Digital for VAT: my personal timeline


12 June 2019: 10am Trying to sign up for clients

[spoiler alert: use two browsers if you want to use both your ASA and old agent services account at once, and gmail accounts are apparently not verified by HMRC]

Just read the ICAEW's Taxline, which reminds me that under the terms of Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation, Helpsheet A which says 

"Except in exceptional circumstances, a member will explicitly file in their capacity as agent. A member is advised to use the facilities provided for agents and to avoid knowing or using the client’s personal access credentials."

The situation is this: if I cannot manage to sign us up how do I ensure that the clients sign up? Do I have to go round and mentor them to teach them the sign up process? What if it does not work? 

This time I use Edge brower, I go to the sign up page https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-up-for-making-tax-digital-for-vat

To sign up your client https://www.access.service.gov.uk/login/signin/creds

I login using my new Agent Services Account

Than as asked I enter their VAT number, their business type, their UTR, their postcode. I recommend that you keep your old agent services account open on another screen, different browser and so you have their details at hand, or otherwise your tax software.

Then I get to the screen where HMRC send me an email to verify my address.

No email from HMRC.

Ho hum. I guess I am having to use a private email again.

In passing, I have also noticed that when HMRC do contact you to confirm that you application is reveived that they do not tell you your business name. I now realise that I have signed up one of our own companies, but which one..? Damn.

I go back to my client application and put in a private email address. It asks me to confirm, so I click confirm but this time it does not want to send a verification email. Wow, that's interesting. It wants to send a verification if I use my @rossmartin.etc email but not if I use an @gmail 

I click on the option for HMRC to communicate by post only. This should be less confusing for my client.

'We have received your client's information' Sign up another client?

That one took only 33 minutes. Thank heavens we only have a few VAT clients.

I will try again in a day or  so. Its easier now I know to use the Edge browser. Must try and get hold of the helpline and find why it does not like to verify our work email.


 

10 June 2019: trying to sign up a client on their behalf 

Approx 11.45am to 12.36am

[spoiler alert: another fail, I have just realised after writing this that I was doing this is Chrome. Durrh. Silly me. I will try tomorrow on a different browser]

Navigated to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-up-for-making-tax-digital-for-vat

Clicked on: Sign up your own business.

Do you have accounting software for managing your VAT records?

Yes

Is your software ready to submit your Making Tax Digital for VAT Returns directly to HMRC?

Yes

What is your email address?

Added mine

Screen delay. I go away and check my inboxes for nothing, by the time I return the screen has changed. I can confirm my email from the screen.

We proceed through the questions, what type of business? its a partnership.

Enter UTR

Bad Request

For request 'POST /vat-through-software/sign-up/partnership-utr' [No CSRF token found in body]

Oops!

I press 'back' on my browser

You can't use this service yet

To use this service, you need to set up an agent services account.

Sign out

????? I was registering as a business.

I will clear the browser and try again tomorrow.


 

6 June 2019 10am-11am

Ist attempt

Navigated to:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-up-for-making-tax-digital-for-vat

Clicked on:

Sign up your client’s business.

(I did not want to do this it was a different screen to last time so I thought I would have a go).

Asked to login, which I did with usual agent credentials

HMRC: “You can't use this service yet

To use this service, you need to set up an agent services account.”

 

2nd attempt

Navigated to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-up-for-making-tax-digital-for-vat

Clicked on: Sign up your own business.

HMRC: Do you have accounting software for managing your VAT records?

Yes

HMRC : Is your software ready to submit your Making Tax Digital for VAT Returns directly to HMRC?

Yes

HMRC:

“You can't use this service yet

To use this service, you need to set up an agent services account.”

 

3rd Attempt

Googled 'How to sign up for Making VAT Digital' - my aim was to see if I could find better links

Found this page, which I have not visited

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-tax-digital-how-vat-businesses-and-other-vat-entities-can-get-ready/making-tax-digital-how-vat-businesses-and-other-vat-entities-can-get-ready

Clicked on

Find out how to get ready for MTD for VAT if you’re a business.

Sent to:

Making Tax Digital for VAT as a business: step by step https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-tax-digital-for-vat

I clicked on:

Sign up for Making Tax Digital for VAT at least 72 hours before your VAT Return is due, or 7 days before if you pay by direct debit.

Check if there are any problems with this service.

HMRC: Full service available.

Clicked on link: Sign up to Making Tax Digital for VAT

HMRC You can't use this service yet

To use this service, you need to set up an agent services account.

I clicked on: Sign in to Making Tax Digital for VAT online.

HMRC: Sorry - agents can't use this sign in page yet

Sign in to HMRC online services as an agent.

I now realise that it thinks I am logged in. Maybe there is something wrong with the cookies.

 

4th Attempt

I go to HMRC’s normal login page https://www.gov.uk/log-in-register-hmrc-online-services

I click Sign in

HMRC: Sorry - agents can't use this sign in page yet

Sign in to HMRC online services as an agent.

I click on the above link, and lo’ and behold I am in my old agent account.

I log out

HMRC: You've signed out

 

Use the link in your email invite to sign in again.

??? What email?

 

5th Attempt: Different browser ‘Edge’

Navigated to: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-up-for-making-tax-digital-for-vat

Clicked on: Sign up your own business.

Do you have accounting software for managing your VAT records?

Yes

Is your software ready to submit your Making Tax Digital for VAT Returns directly to HMRC?

Yes

Went through ‘security’ – HMR sent my landline a code.

Agreed to Direct Debits

HMRC: what’s the business email address?

HMRC new message “We will email you to confirm you've signed up your business to use software to submit its VAT Returns (this can take up to 72 hours).”

HMRC: Check your email address

???? Maybe it does not like my email.

I change email, and submit a different email.

HMRC: Check your email address

I realise that I am now so stressed that I have missed clicking a link 'continue'. I click it this apparently 'checks my email address'.

HMRC: We've sent an email to xxxx Click on the link in the email to verify your email address.

This is where I got to last week. No email received from HMRC.

 

6th Attempt

I go back and click on change your email address.

I try a gmail address

11am. HMRC sends a link to my gmail. 

The link does not work in my Chrome browser (gmail automatically opens in Chrome).

I cut and paste it back into Edge.

HMRC: How should we contact the business? 

Email or letter?

They now have the wrong email for me so i have no choice but to ask for post.

HMRC:

What happens next

We will send you an email within 72 hours to confirm. Do not submit a VAT Return during this time.

  1. You must use software that works with Making Tax Digital for VAT (opens in a new window or tab).
  2. You must only use the new way of submitting your VAT Return through software with Making Tax Digital for VAT. Do not use the old way of sending your VAT Return.
  3. Check that your software is connected to send VAT Returns to HMRC directly. You might need to sign in with your Government Gateway user ID.
  4. Use the software to record all your sales and purchases.
  5. After April, keep your business details up to date using HMRC services (this is also called business tax account). Do not use the VAT online services.

One down, six more to go.

I have at last managed to register one of our companies!

There may be an issue with cookies, HMRC's pages might not work on certain browsers and there is obviously a problem with our work email address.

Last week 

31 May 2019 12.36 – 13.00

1st attempt of the day

I do all that I tried on 30 May (and earlier) again to see if it will work. This time with just one company.

This time I login to HMRC as one of our companies and I go through all the initial login screen that first make me re-verfiy my email, set up a special word and then to my annoyance it sends an access code to my co-director's mobile phone. Once we have managed to get that I then login. I then follow the screens.

Once again I get the same problem - it again asks to verify my email but it does not send it to me. 

It says ‘Check your junk folder. If it's not there we can send it again. If we send your email again, any previous links will stop working.

Nothing happens.

I check my email on my phone, on Outlook and on webmail.

I check my spam, my junk.

I try again and again and again.

After about FIVE attempts, I give up.

I report the error and then I also report feedback ‘What do I think of the online service? I reply ‘Very bad’.

The really, really annoying part is that my email was verified when I logged in to HMRC. Clearly an ongoing issue.

Another 30 mins wasted time.

Reader comments (you can email them in)

L wrote on 31/5/2019   It’s not just me that’s struggled with the MTD for VAT then?! I’ve gone round and round in circles and then finally a page that I’ve been on half a dozen times (at least) previously will decide to let me get a step further…. And then it’s back to the start with the next company! God only knows what actually filing the returns will be like….

C wrote on 31/5/2019 We are having the same problem, it is good to know that a tax expert has this as well!

T wrote on 31/5/2019 Thanks you for sharing the Digital VAT issues with HMRC , 

We have also had the same issues since the last 5 weeks and getting nowhere on the phone as their staff say they do not know how to help to get codes. They claim already sent these but we do not get them in the post or through email. They also can't confirm a date or the practice address these were sent to. Very frustrating, and worrying as late filing and payment looming for clients and so time wasting for us as we cannot recover this time costs.

Not a professional service from HMRC as ill planned and poorly executed and incomplete set up from HMRC end. Shockingly poor and sub standard customer service. Many colleagues are in this same situation from 6 weeks ago.

Please suggest to Associations/Institutes to set up web complaint form which goes to HMRC and records complaints to hold HMRC accountable, else this will progressively worsen and impact on our health in the future with additional centralisation at Stratford and Hugh office closures.

L wrote 31/5/2019  Definitely not just you! It didn’t help that when I tried getting ahead of the game at the start of April it wouldn’t let me because there were payments of vat due by direct debit in c 2 weeks time!!! Talk about frustrating. Not fit for purpose as usual.


30 May 2019 Approx 14.00 - 16.00

I find and click on link https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-up-for-making-tax-digital-for-vat

And then

https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/vat-through-software/sign-up/have-software

I answer the questions:

  • Do I have accounting software?
  • Is the software ready?
  • Do I have more than one VAT reg business?
  • What is my business type?

I enter my company registration number

I confirm my company name

I agree to direct debit conditions

I confirm my business email

An activation is sent to that email.

Nothing happens

I did not get an email

It says ‘Check your junk folder. If it's not there we can send it again. If we send your email again, any previous links will stop working.

Nothing happens.

I check my email on my phone, on Outlook and on webmail.

I check my spam, my junk.

I try this for both of my companies

  • R Ltd
  • T Ltd

Both times I receive no email.

I report the error and then I also report feedback ‘What do I think of the online service? I reply ‘Very bad’.


I tried to do all the above  earlier in the month however I was not sensible enough to keep a record of what went wrong, however it was the same as what happened on the 30 May 2019

Signing up as an agent

31 May 2019

I try again to login and I can now login as the link is working.

I cannot link to clients until they or I on their behalf activate themselves for MTD.

I try to see what I can do and find that I cannot do anything.

I leave the page.

 

Reader comments (you can email them in)

From J: 31/5/2019  Loging into your ASA. Make sure you use the following  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-in-to-your-agent-services-account. At least that’s what I have found. Can’t help with the rest. No one can!


30 May 2019

I try to login to my Agent Services Account (ASA)

I could not find a login screen.

I followed the details on https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sign-in-to-your-agent-services-account

I checked that there were no issues with the service by following this link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-tax-digital-for-vat-service-availability-and-issues it says ' Full service available'

I go back and click the link to login.

It asks me for my details.

It then says that I already have an ASA!

Durrrrh of course I do, I want to login and not make a new one.


Earlier: Jan/Feb

I set up the ASA earlier in the year following two or maybe three calls to HMRC's VAT helpline. I experienced all sorts of made problems which seem to be do with glitches on the system and links going to the wrong places.

I found in February that my ASA is not displaying correctly. The VAT helpline people told me to wait and see.

MTD errors

How stupid can one be? When is a mistake the result of carelessness?  These are Nichola's mistakes that have occurred in trying to be MTD compliant. Software error or operator error or maybe a combination of the two. 

Note, until this point, I have had an unblemished track record of VAT filings. There is one plus point I do now know how to correct an error, see Errors: VAT how to correct.

1. Posted client's output VAT backwards.
The aim was to find a new way for the client to enter their till sales into the cloud accounting software instead of keeping their till totals on Excel, and thus avoiding having any digital linking issues in a year's time.

Simples.

At present we post the VAT receipts by journal and we want to avoid this if we are to truly embrace the full elements of software!

I set up a sales invoice template which allowed me to enter their daily takings as invoices and automatically gives them the correct VAT and sales codes. Their credit card and cheque receipts could then be 'reconciled' on block from the automatic bank feed (although being sales of very small items line by line matching is not worth the effort). The flaw in the process is that an adjustment has to be made to contra cash takings to cash payments by journal, as you cannot set up an autofeed for cash.

I set it up on a spreadsheet first so I hade the correct end result and could double check my cash takings and VAT totals. I put it all into the software and I then I have no idea what went wrong.

The VAT return showed the correct totals for takings and VAT (boxes 1 and 6) for the period. I was pleased with the result. It was only after I pressed submit that I went on to do some more work on the accounts for the year end and then I noted a terrible problem. The output figures were negative! That software does not show credits as negatives. The problem was that I had been using two other types of software that day, both of which require you to enter credits as negatives. I have never seen negative sales on a VAT return and I can only say that I just saw the correct totals for each box and failed to notice the negatives.

HMRC and the client were understanding. I have lost confidence in my 'solution'. It was not easy and if I can't do it I doubt that I can teach a client to do it correctly. We are going back to journals.

2. Got stuck in the software

The software said “New report available”. This looked interesting so I clicked the link. It then took me to a page to “Try the new report”.

It took me to a Making Tax Digital for VAT sign up page. I did not wish to sign up to MTD as it was too early for compulsory sign up. I just wanted to file a VAT return. Unfortunately, I could find no way to get back to the original VAT report. I did not wish to sign up for MTD early, I had not reason to sign up to it to make the March return.

I then spent three hours online trying to work out how to get back to the old screen and the proper VAT report. I found that it is impossible to phone the software they do not have a helpline number. I found, via the use of the a forum that I could contact the vendor via the vendor's own forum. I did this. I did not get a response for 24 hours. I missed the VAT filing deadline through being trapped in the software.

It turned out, the next day, once I had had several ‘conversations’ with the help desk that there was a button to return to the original VAT report within the software however when viewed in my browser with a wide screen this is off the bottom of my screen and I did not realise it was there.

I did not realise that I was never actually seeing the bottom of the software's pages.

I have now swapped to a different browser and monitor and the link is visible. Once I found the link I was able to go back to the proper VAT report and file the VAT return.

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