HMRC has agreed on proposals for developing their "Agent Strategy" and is working with agents’ representative bodies to take this work forward.

A workplan has been designed that will:

  • Increase HMRC's customer understanding of the agent population, their relationships with their clients and the work they do for them and use this to identify and plan for future market trends;
  • Through better customer understanding, segment the agent population according to how they interact with HMRC with a view to differentiating between services ;
  • Work with the representative bodies to maintain high standards across the industry;
  • Building on Agent Online Self Serve, identify other activities and transactions that agents could carry out digitally on behalf of their clients. HMRC expect that all agents will have access to a new, multi channel digital portal where they can view transactions and liabilities;
  • Consider the extent to which those who meet (yet to be determined) standards should be given access to more services , for example the ability to correct and change things online .

HMRC says that this work is still at the formative stage and it plans to talk to as many agents as possible (through consultative groups and by attending events and conferences) to obtain your views and ideas to help it to develop its proposals. The aim being to transform the way agents and HMRC work in partnership and enable them to give a better service to your customers.

Comment

We have seen HMRC developing a number of new products over the past few years including the online Dashboard and various e-forms. The problem, historically from an agent view point is that some of these have not been developed with agents in mind. For example:

  • if an agent wishes to view a client's dashboard, he will have to log in as the client. The client is of course not supposed to share its log in details!
  • If an agent is completing an online form on behalf of a client he will want to be able to view the whole form, and probably print off a blank copy so that he knows what all the questions are. Client and accountant don't often sit together in meeting filling out forms online, so the agent needs to be able to fill in different sections and have the ability to move back and forth over uncompleted pages of forms, saving at different time.

The excuse from HMRC was always that there was never the budget to develop products for agents too, however there are clearly a lot of cost advantages in HMRC being able to rely on agent and effectively delegate duties such as adjustment of PAYE codings to agents.

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