Trust registration service and the agent services account – update

The Tax Faculty is in ongoing discussions with HMRC about the practical problems with the trust registration service (TRS).

We are pleased to report that one of the steps in the registration process has been removed: it is no longer necessary for agents to email HMRC to request the link to open their agent services account (ASA). Instead, when an agent who has not yet set up their ASA clicks on the link to register a trust or estate they will be immediately directed to the link to set up their ASA.

Some other updates on the ASA are set out below.

This update supplements the information in our previous news items on the TRS, all published within the last month:

HMRC has published brief guidance for agents on registering an estate and registering a trust.

Agent services account – some other points of clarification

  • When the ASA is set up new government gateway credentials are allocated. These credentials must be used to access the TRS. It is not possible to access the service directly from the ASA; the links on register a trust must be used to access the service.
  • Some agents are encountering difficulties with registering because the address they provide does not match the address on HMRC’s records. The address to be used should be the address associated with the firm’s UTR which may be different from the office address. This does not resolve the issue for all agents; those affected will need to contact HMRC to resolve the address mismatch issue.
  • Agents who are experiencing difficulties with the system should phone the Trusts and Estates Helpline on 0300 123 1072.
  • Agents will see an option in the ASA to copy existing client information to their new agent services account. It is recommended that agents don’t do this; the appropriate time to copy existing client information is when signing up for a digital service such as MTD for income tax or MTD for VAT. Copying across existing client information will not pre-populate any of the information required to register a trust or estate.
  • Setting up a firm’s ASA does not affect how it accesses existing services as an agent; existing government gateway IDs should continue to be used to access these services.
  • The only service currently available is to register a trust or an estate. The functionality to update these details will not be added until sometime in 2018. This means once you have pressed the submit button you cannot go back and edit the information until sometime in 2018.
  • Information entered on forms can be saved and retrieved for 30 days only from when the form was first started. This may not be sufficient time to collect the necessary details from the client; the Tax Faculty has made representations that there should be no time restriction but has been told that this is an industry standard.
  • It is possible to set up administrator and assistant functionality for the new government gateway to avoid the need to share the login details for the ASA. However, anyone with access to the ASA can view all incomplete forms that have been saved (but not those that have been submitted) so this is not a way of ensuring confidentiality. For trusts and estates for which the data is sensitive and must remain confidential it is recommended that all the data is collected before starting and the form is completed and submitted in one attempt, with the password also being changed immediately before this is done.
  • HMRC is in discussions with seven software developers about a commercial software API (Application Programme Interface) solution for trust registration. This is likely to be the medium term solution for agents who act for enough trusts and estates to justify the investment.