Latest information on the Agent Services Account and the Trust Registration Service

The Trust Registration Service went live for agents on 17 October 2017.

 

The Tax Faculty has received a significant number of reports from members who have had difficulty with the service. We are in ongoing discussions with HMRC about these issues and the need for better communications.

 

The additional information we have obtained so far is as follows:

 

  • In order to access the service it is necessary to set up the firm’s Agent Services Account (ASA). This needs to be done with care as this is the account that will be used in future to access all new online HMRC services for agents including Making Tax Digital for Business.
  • Each firm will have one ASA only and this account is linked to the firm’s own UTR – be that a partnership, a sole trade, an LLP or a limited company. Where the structure of the firm includes more than one legal entity the firm may wish to discuss with HMRC which is the most appropriate entity to link to the ASA; it should generally be the entity that provides tax services.
  • The link to set up an ASA is scheduled to be made available on GOV.UK on 20 November 2017. In the meantime firms should follow the link to register a trust on GOV.UK. The system will identify that the government gateway credentials being used are those of a registered agent and will direct the user to email HMRC to request the link to set up their ASA.
  • Two step verification (2SV) is optional on agent government gateway accounts. Firms who expect to have multiple users of the account may wish to avoid setting up 2SV on the account as it is will be impractical to have access codes going to one phone number.
  • Members have expressed concern that any member of staff who is given the details to access the ASA will be able to see the records of all clients. HMRC has suggested that it is possible to restrict access using the administrator and assistants functionality which is available on the government gateway. We have asked HMRC for further guidance on how this works but at this stage it is not clear that this is a practical solution to this confidentiality issue.
  • Overseas agents cannot currently set up an ASA. HMRC is providing a workaround for this. Any overseas agent without a UTR should contact the trusts helpline (+44 300 123 1072) who will send them a data capture sheet to gather the information and send back to HMRC (this is only available to overseas agents).
  • Advisers such as solicitors who are not registered as an agent with HMRC cannot set up an ASA and therefore cannot set up a trust in their capacity as agent. They may be able to register a trust if they are also acting as a trustee.
  • If the settlor is dead and there is scant information available the FAQs give a limited workaround on page 7.

 

The FAQs referred to were provided by HMRC and can be found via our news item Trust registration service frequently answered questions

 

Once the agent has access to the service, the issues are the amount of information that is required, much of which the agent may not hold. There is also the usual frustration that is experienced with all iforms in that it is not possible to proceed to the next screen until the previous screen has been completed; you cannot complete the form leaving some questions unanswered and go back later when the missing information has been obtained (it is possible to save a partially completed form).

 

The deadline to register

The Tax Faculty has made representations that the 5 December 2017 deadline for registering new trusts and the 31 January 2018 deadline for existing trusts should be extended. We will post further news items as more information emerges.

 

HMRC is running a Talking Points webinar on this service: Register for this meeting on 17 November, 12:00 to 13:00.

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