Next stage in HMRC digital services

29 April 2014

HMRC has published the latest information about Agent Online Self Serve which includes the latest developments in Identity Assurance (IDA) with Authority Management.

The Briefing Note below explains what has been happening and what is planned over the next few months.


Briefing Note – April 2014


Agent Online Self Serve and HMRC digital services

We thought that agents would like another update on HMRC’s progress introducing new digital services and some information about the work we’ve been doing recently with the Government Digital Service (GDS) on Identity Assurance (IDA).

Our last Briefing Note explained the importance of IDA to Agent Online Self Serve (AOSS) and that IDA will enable agents (and agent firms) to verify that they are who they say they are when they transact with government departments online. IDA with Authority Management is the service that will enable users of online services to transact on behalf of others.

What’s been happening?

  • HMRC and the Government Digital Service (GDS) have just moved into what’s known as the ‘Alpha’ phase for IDA with Authority Management for organisations and agents. ‘Alpha’ is still exploratory and means learning, not building, but the end result will be the design of a simulated service to test the process for verifying that an organisation exists and that someone within an organisation such as a director, an employee or an agent acting on behalf of an individual or organisation has the authority to do so.
  • We will need to develop a proposition that can be used across government for example DVLA, DWP and Companies House all have an interest in how IDA is being developed.
  • Workshops have taken place to establish the demographics of the various agent firms who will need to obtain IDA credentials (Large, Mid-sized, Voluntary and Community Sector agents and sole traders). We know that different types of agents will have differing requirements so we have also been developing a number of interesting and challenging scenarios where IDA with Authority Management will apply.
  • We will then sketch out and begin to develop the initial screens to take users on a trial journey to, for example, delegate authority to transact with government to an employee of an organisation or enable a client to delegate authority to their new agent.
  • We know that there are lots of questions we will need to answer – Where/how will authority to act on behalf of another be stored? Should there be different types of authority? What would be the minimum amount of information an Identity Provider would need in order to verify an organisation’s or individual’s identity?
  • We expect this (Alpha) phase of the project to run for about three months and involve user research and testing of our products with agents – probably from the end of April/early May onwards.. GDS plans to visit a few agents in their offices as part of this phase of research so we’ll be approaching some of our agent volunteers to see if they’re happy to help with this.
  • Alongside this work the Agent Online Self Serve project will be running separate alpha testing of HMRC services for agents including registration, the migration of existing agent/client relationships and the design of an agents’ homepage to provide access to client data and agent services.
  • Another project will look at how to make third party software products compatible with these new services. We are talking to software developers to understand how authority/delegate management is designed into their products now and the changes we’ll need to make for the future. We’ll involve agents in these discussions too.
  • The aim is to join all of this work together later this year to see how the end-to-end experience of obtaining an IDA credential, registering as an agent and using services on behalf of clients might work in the new digital service.


  • IDA is the cross government programme that will enable people and organisations to assert their identity online safely and securely using the services of existing, trusted Identity Providers.
  • IDA will provide robust assurance of an agent’s (or agent firm’s) identity and agents will use their IDA credentials to ‘log on’ to AOSS and access their new digital services.
  • Authority management enables users to act on behalf of others – so agents can use government digital services on behalf of their clients and firms can delegate permissions to their employees to enable them to deal with government.

Want to know more?

Take a look here for more information about IDA

Other digital services

Your tax account

Your tax account is the digital service that enables small businesses to access everything they need to manage their tax affairs quickly and simply through a single, easily accessible and secure online space. Your tax account provides a personalised homepage with an overview of tax records, a summary of current liabilities, direct links to actions and transactions (e.g. filing returns and making payments) that need to be completed; and access to help, education and interactive tools. HMRC will continue to add new features to enhance and expand the service.

During February and March the first live version was trialled with around 750 SME volunteers. We’re now beginning to open up the service to more customers as our tests show that it is safe and sensible to do so. The service is still in a trial (known as ‘beta’) stage – so that we can try out new features and check that we’ve got things right.

We’ll also carefully control and monitor the number of users so access is by invitation only for the time being. We’re starting off with about 1000 volunteers and aim to increase by another 3000 or users every week. This will provide valuable feedback, which we’ll use to improve the service before it’s formally launched (again, when various tests show that it is right to do so), and replaces ‘Your HMRC services’ and the Business Tax Dashboard.


Digital Self Assessment

This new digital service gives SA customers the option to receive communications electronically instead of on paper. Following a pilot (private beta) launched in February 2014, we aim to expand the service to more SA customers from April onwards.

The digital messages customers will be able to view online will be tested to make sure they are effective. We will then add to the online messages available to customers throughout the year.

PAYE for employees

This new service enables PAYE customers to tell us online about changes affecting their tax code. The initial service has been limited to car and car fuel benefits but we plan to involve more customers from the summer onwards.

Agents will be able to use this service on behalf of their clients once AOSS is available and they have been through the registration process.