Two step verification on agent accounts has resulted in some agents being locked out of their agent account

Some agents have been unable to access their accounts

As reported in previous news items HMRC has been rolling out two step verification (2SV) to provide additional security over government gateway login details. The Tax Faculty had previously been assured that 2SV would not be extended to agent accounts – it was always obvious that codes being sent by text to a mobile phone or landline would be impractical for any firm larger than a sole practitioner.

In mid-September, HMRC did send a poorly worded communication which suggested that 2SV was being extended to agents; the Tax Faculty queried this with HMRC but has yet to receive full clarification.

However, it appears that HMRC went ahead and introduced 2SV on agent accounts, despite the concerns that were raised, but it was optional. Following a report from a member firm we understand that at about lunchtime on Tuesday 18 October 2016 HMRC made 2SV mandatory on at least some agent accounts.

This has led to a number of agents being locked out of their agent accounts. Our current understanding is that HMRC reversed the software change within a matter of hours following complaints from agents affected.

The consultation and communication on this issue has been very poor – we will be pursuing this matter with HMRC and will provide further information as it becomes available.

  • I am just a tax payer, not a practitioner, and have given up on 2 stage verification. It was hard enough to get into my tax account before, with a 12 random character user ID and 8 character password. Now more effort than it is worth, I will not bother again. Managed to get VAT out of the Government Gateway, so no need. I note that in MTD HMRC refer to the "easily accessible tax account". Dread to think what the difficult one is like!

  • Yes it was implemented on me yesterday, just as I was checking loads of different clients bits and pieces - 4 text messages in the space of half an hour, before I saved them all up and dealt with at one go, not an easy way to work, and really annoying. Didn't even know they had my mobile number, so sheer good luck I hadn't changed it.

    So glad they have turned it off - bad enough on a personal level, not really needed for the office I would have thought!!

    Trawled briefly through their website to find out what it was all about & who to complain to, but no mention of it there.

  • Yes this happened to us. Its a bit tricky when you get your code and no one in the building knows who that specific one  is for then another and another then the wrong code is used as its out of order  and then it doesnt work and everyone complains and then you call them and try to sort it out and it takes 2 hours and so eventually they turn it off and 25 people breathe a sigh of relief.....phew

    Its a jolly good idea though but not sure how you can implement this at the multi terminal level. Heaven knows what a big 4 firm do getting 10,000 calls a minute!