Of course, what is "normal" in the current economic climate may be difficult to divine, however, the pilot is observational and not a compliance check.
HMRC want to check up and see just who is creating the problems and will focus on Corporation Tax and Self Assessment. It will meet the agent to discuss and understand what the 'agent view' is telling HMRC. This research will help it understand why the data captured on some agents' client portfolios seems a little unusual.
A controlled sample of agents will be approached by Agent Support Officers by letter giving them the opportunity to discuss (with the Agent Support Officer) reasons client compliance is bad. Within 28 days of sending the letter, an Agent Support Officer will call to arrange a visit. The visit should take no longer than one and a half hours.
Although the pilot will focus on client return and payment issues, the ultimate intention is to bring together filing, payment and compliance data on HMRC's systems to build a picture of the agent's engagement with HMRC. Results of the pilot will be reviewed with the Joint Tax Agent Strategy Steering Group (JTASSG) and this evaluation will inform how the initiative is taken forward.
Those approached are not obliged to agree to a visit - though HMRC hopes that they will.