Our top 5 HMRC resources for agents
Susan Cattell outlines five useful HMRC resources for agents; are you making the most of what is on offer?
1. Talking Points – interactive webinars tailored to tax agents
HMRC regularly runs Talking Points webinars designed specifically for tax agents; they include presentations from HMRC and other relevant experts, and interactive Q&A sessions with agent participants.
Recordings are posted after the live sessions so you can catch up at a time that suits you if you cannot make the live session.
Attendance now frequently reaches 1,000 and HMRC schedules many sessions twice to meet demand. Topics announced for the next nine weeks include:
- Capital allowances and vehicles (mainly the special rules for cars)
- HMRC’s experience of the transformation to new UK GAAP
- Basis Periods
- Agent Toolkits and You
- Tax Coding
- Call handling on the Agents Dedicated Line
- Construction Industry Scheme
For recordings of recent Talking Points, details of forthcoming sessions and to register to attend, go to the HMRC Talking Points page.
2. Working Together – for widespread issues affecting many agents
Working Together (WT) allows tax agents to work with HMRC to improve HMRC’s operations. Its key purpose is to identify widespread issues affecting many agents and their clients so that HMRC can address them.
There have been big changes to WT with the move from the old regional face-to-face meetings to national digital meetings. More recently agents signed up to WT have been involved in a pilot of an online Agent Forum – allowing agents to raise issues (and HMRC to respond or identify widespread issues for escalation) in real time.
The next digital meeting is in July and will include an exciting announcement on future plans. If you have already signed up for WT make sure you register for this meeting so that you find out what is happening.
If you are not currently involved, now is the time to sign up so you receive the invitation for July. We will provide HMRC with your name and email address so that you can be added to the HMRC database.
3. Agent account manager service – for agent-specific issues
If you have an issue specific to you or to one of your clients this should be raised through HMRC’s agent account manager (AAM) team rather than WT.
AAMs act as intermediaries between agents and HMRC where the normal communication channels have broken down; over 10,000 agents are currently registered to use the service. Information on how to use the AAM service and the online registration can be found on HMRC’s dedicated page.
4. Blogs and newsletters
HMRC has a blog specifically for tax agents. Recent posts have publicised the AAM service and highlighted the need for cyber awareness (and how to spot fake HMRC emails).
There is also an HMRC digital blog which provides news and information on specific digital projects, including updates on services in development.
The main HMRC newsletter for tax agents is the Agent Update. It includes news on HMRC services, details of consultations, articles on technical changes and updates on issues affecting agents.
There are other newsletters which may be of interest to agents working in particular areas, for example, the Employers’ Bulletin.
5. HMRC Toolkits – helping to reduce errors and improve compliance
There are currently 20 online Agent Toolkits providing guidance on errors HMRC frequently see in returns and setting out steps agents can take to reduce those errors and improve tax compliance.
They also offer an easy way into relevant HMRC guidance, published in its manuals. The toolkits are currently in PDF format. They have been developed with the benefit of input from agents and professional bodies, although the content is based on HMRC’s view of tax law.
If you don’t currently use the Toolkits now is the time to have a look to see what you have been missing. Topics range from business profits, directors’ loan accounts and capital allowances to property rental, trusts and estates and partial exemption.
Any feedback on Toolkits or other HMRC resources?
HMRC are reviewing the Toolkits and seeking feedback from ICAS and other professional bodies on whether they are meeting agents’ needs. We would welcome input from members who use the Toolkits on the following questions (comments will be collated and returned to HMRC).
- Do HMRC Agent Toolkits currently meet your needs?
- Do you feel HMRC Agent Toolkits could be improved? If yes, how?
- What area of HMRC Agent Toolkits currently works well?
- Do you like the PDF format? If the format changed what would you find useful?
- Any other comments regarding HMRC Agent Toolkits?
If there is a reason you don’t use the Toolkits, which could be addressed as part of HMRC’s review, let us know.
ICAS regularly meets with HMRC, in the Virtual Communications Group, to discuss communications and resources for agents. If you have any questions or feedback on the other resources outlined in this article email us.
ICAS Tax Conference 2017
Stay on top of the latest tax changes by attending the ICAS Tax Conference 2017, which takes place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh on Tuesday 23 May. Cost: Members and Students: £192 Non-members: £234 CAPS Firm: £174. All prices include VAT.