HMRC agent research into use of digital services

11 March 2014

HMRC has commissioned independent research company TNS BMRB to survey a random sample of 1700 paid agents by telephone interview. Invitation letters will be issued to agents by HMRC prior to the telephone call.

A number of paid tax agents may have received a letter recently, signed by Business Tax Director General, Jim Harra. The letter explains that HMRC has commissioned independent research company TNS BMRB to carry out a survey. HMRC want to understand more about agents’ use of digital services now – and the support they may need in future, as more and more services are offered online. Agents do not have to participate in the survey but HMRC hope that many will as their input is important to help provide the right services that work well for both agents and HMRC.

HMRC estimate that there are around 43,000 professional, paid agents’ entities operating in the UK - ranging from sole traders to international companies, excluding those who work in the voluntary sector or on behalf of friends and family.

TNS BMRB will contact a random sample of paid agents and carry out 1700 telephone interviews. They will select around 30 agents to test the questionnaire to begin with. Following any necessary adjustments, HMRC will issue invitation letters for the rest of the 1700 interviews, which will be carried out between 10 March and 25 April. The questions are designed to give HMRC a better understanding of the tasks agents carry out on their clients’ behalf – and to explore attitudes to HMRC and the use of digital services.

Follow-up interviews and focus groups will be conducted with some survey participants who are happy to explore the issues in more depth. TNS BMRB will not give HMRC the names of the agents they have interviewed and all responses to the survey will be anonymised and amalgamated before being given to HMRC.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for an invitation to tell HMRC what you think about their digital services – you can let them know by responding to this blog. Do you use them now? If so, what could we do to make them better?