We hope that most people have managed to file their VAT returns for the first quarter under Making Tax Digital for VAT. If you are still struggling (as so many of us are), here are some top tips.

1. If you are searching for HMRC services, some are best searched for via an external search engine and some from You.gov

  • There are several duff links to the Agent Services Account (ASA): to find it search externally for 'Agent Services Account login'

2. HMRC's servers seem to have issues with multiple logins with different agent accounts.

  • Try using different browsers, not just using different brower tabs.
  • Try having a laptop close by and using that if all else fails.

3. If you are an agent HMRC wants you to file as an agent and not as your client.

  • The rules for Professional Conduct in Taxation dictate that if you are an agent you should not use anyone else's ID.
  • You may login as one of you clients in an emergency, i.e. if authorisation is not working. HMRC helpline support agrees.

4. Some cloud software is getting confused if you connect to MTD for VAT both as both agent and client.

  • You may then have to re-connect.
  • You may get error messages: 'come back in 72 hours'.

5. Authorisation of clients seems to be problematic: the link that HMRC generates does not always work.

  • You authorise clients via your new Agent Services Account.
  • They are supposed to be sent a link [this has never appeared for our clients]
  • You then go to track authorisation requests and you can cut and paste the link into an email from there.
  • Don't open the link in a browser as this seems to mess it up, send it to a different machine (just in case).
  • Try and activate it for your client.
  • If it fails try a few more times, the system seems overloaded and often creates a 'page not found' error.
  • There is a defect in the authorisation process: HMRC is (@6 August) investigating.

6. Failed client authorisation may be because some clients were set up on the government gateway as personal accounts and not as businesses.

  • If you have a sole trader, check their gateway account.
  • If they have a business account, then authorisation seems to work.

7. You will not receive a penalty for late filing or late payment under the new system if you tried to set yourself up and failed.

  • It is unclear how hard you must 'try' and how many efforts to file are resonable in the circumstances.
  • How much time is it reasonable to invest in the process? A day? A week? Several months?
  • Nichola's effort's are documented, see MTD for VAT Blog 'Trying to sign up to MTD' 

8. Nichola's MTD for VAT Blog 'Trying to sign up to MTD' features one adviser's attempt to sign up clients and their own businesses.

  • It features attempts to sign up just 4 businesses
  • Problems were caused by issues that neither HMRC or the software companies could apparently resolve.There was only a 50% success rate until the very last minute, when HMRC changed some settings. 
  • Total time spent in trying to sign up was two months in total, with many calls to HMRC and it was extremely stressful.
  • VAT returns submitted disappeared, clients were moved from the agent account and then reappeared.
  • With hindsight HMRC should have extended the pilot.
  • 2fa (two factor authentication) caused a lot of issues, particularly when there was no mobile signal or phones ran out of battery.

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