HMRC’s agent account is absolutely imperative, not only for running your Accountancy business but as a vital tool in being able to offer adequate services to your clients. The agent account is designed to give you access to your clients’ accounts for things like PAYE, VAT and Corporation Tax etc.
In an ideal world, you send your payroll information/VAT to HMRC, you pay what is owed, it all matches off beautifully and the “account” is kept in a constant up-to-date state, with an owed balance of £0.00. That is not the real world; errors do happen, sometimes they are just small inconveniences. For example, if your corporation tax payment had the wrong last 3 digits, meaning the payment is allocated to the wrong account. You are then charged interest on the actual payment owed because it hasn’t been “allocated” and cleared. A quick-ish phone call later and you have resolved the problem, but only because you had access to the clients account and could see this issue allowing you to resolve it. Also saving time and money in the future.
PAYE accounts can get really messy, I have seen examples of a new client with an error on his PAYE reconciliation dating back 3 years! Easy to reconcile when you have access to the data though, right? Well indeed, but only if you are one of the lucky Accountants who has been given the “Golden ticket” - a bespoke invitation by HMRC to view their clients account!
The agent account lets you view the activity of your clients PAYE account so that you can reconcile it, ensure their year end accounts are up to date, ensure their payments are up to date, ensure they are not paying any unnecessary interest (because they accidently underpaid £1.20 due to a typo 2 years ago) … Well it used to – not anymore.
Now, the agent view of a client’s account shows you their “notices” but doesn’t show you any activity, balances or payments. So basically, you can’t see anything that would actually help you do your job effectively for your client. This must just be an error, right? A technical glitch in HMRC’s backend system that is only impacting me? So you call HMRC, get passed around 3 different departments and 3 coffees later you are told they are changing the portal (for the better) and that the new portal, the one that actually shows you what you need, is “Invitation only”…. That’s right, invitation only. Never mind the fact that you already have an agent account, or that your client has authorised you as their agent so that you can act on their behalf and have access to view the necessary figures. Now you can’t. You don’t have HMRC’s golden ticket, you are running a business, but you haven’t been given the “invitation” to something that is imperative to your job. No time frames, no apology, just a “let’s hope you get bumped up the list” to be invited to the new service that actually does what you are already subscribed to.