HMRC Agents Strategy

08 May 2014

HMRC has issued a briefing note which gives the key points from the recent review of how they work with paid agents.

The note below outlines HMRC’s workplan to take the proposals forward and explains how they aim to obtain your views to develop them.


Agents Strategy – April/May 2014

We have provided updates about our work with the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the progress we’re making on introducing new digital services for agents through Agent Online Self Serve in previous Briefing Notes. We plan to pilot a limited agent service (known as a private beta) to a small number of users by the end of the year and we’ll continue to provide regular updates as this work progresses.

Alongside this important work we’re also thinking ahead – about the way we will work with agents in future. Changes in the commercial market, evolving business expectations and the growth of software and virtual products for agents provide an opportunity for considering how we should work together in a new digital environment.

Here’s some information about this work so far.

The Review

Towards the end of last year HMRC conducted a 12 week review of how HMRC works with paid agents. The review put forward proposals for developing our Agents Strategy in the light of the changing and increasingly digital future business environment.

The key points were:

  • for many reasons, not all about tax, a significant number of our customers will continue to employ a paid tax agent;
  • evolving expectations and advances in IT, increasing competition from software developers and other professional service providers are driving innovation in paid agent business models;
  • HMRC should design all future digital services with agents in mind. (Agent Online Self Serve will lay the foundations for this);
  • HMRC should work with agents to promote voluntary compliance; and
  • HMRC should work more closely with software developers and service providers (a growing market) to determine the role they should play in supporting our compliance strategy.

What Next?

HMRC’s Executive Committee has endorsed the review’s proposals and asked us to work with agents’ representative bodies to take this work forward. 

We have a workplan that will:

  • Increase our 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. We expect that all agents will have access to a new, multi channel digital portal where they can view transactions and liabilities; and
  • 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.

This work is still at the formative stage and we plan 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 us to develop our proposals.

Our aim is to transform the way agents and HMRC work in partnership and enable you to give a better service to your customers.

For further information contact Head of Agents Strategy Denise Walsh.