Making Tax Digital and the Agent Services Account – 5 weeks to sort a problem!

In a previous blog post, some issues in relation to the two-factor authentication were highlighted. You can read about my previous blog here.

The last 5 weeks have been immensely stressful; it was not possible to generate accurate VAT returns in the online accounts software; it kept trying to re-authenticate each time using a 6 digit code generated in the HMRC app which was no longer available.

We could generate accurate figures for some returns in the software where the client had not already submitted MTD returns in the pilot. However, where returns had already been filed, it was only possible to generate the transactions in a specific period e.g. 1/1/2019 – 31/3/2019. Any adjustments from prior returns would not be picked up in this report. However, we could not file them.

As 7 May approached, we were in daily contact with HMRC – fortunately at a very senior level. A late Easter and Bank Holiday did not help matters.

We sent screenshots and videos showing the issue. We were given a one sentence suggestion by HMRC in the week before the deadline along the lines of “add another user”. This was easier said than done too…..In the new agent services account, it was not possible to add a new user (although it seems to have changed very recently). We had to go into our old Gateway and add through there. This new user did not work either!

We had managed to file several VAT returns; some did not fall into the MTD net and some had not been set up for MTD yet. In a couple of cases, we used TeamViewer to connect with the client and guide them through the steps necessary to file the returns themselves through their Gateway. In a couple of other cases, we had to obtain the user id, password and the 2-factor authentication code and log in as the client and file – where they really struggled to do it themselves. This left us with 7 returns still to file on 7 May.  The clients either could not find their Gateway details, or, in one case, the previous accountant had filed all the returns prior to us taking over, and we then filed as agent. The accountant refused to pass on the Gateway login details – in the same way as he refused to provide any handover information – but that’s another story.

Late morning on the 7th we were sent a spreadsheet to fill in for those clients affected. We did say it would be unlikely that we would have sufficient time to file all of them, but we managed to submit 5 by this method. We were assured they would be recorded at HMRC end as filed via MTD. The challenge was then trying to get the clients to pay the VAT liability on time! We did specifically ask HMRC to confirm that the direct debit would be collected on time for a couple of those clients – no response!

We were left with two at close of business on the 7th- these being ones where MTD returns had been submitted previously. As outline above, we could not report fully and could not “close down” the VAT period, so the figures could have changed by the time we were able to file, so I was not at all keen to supply figures for these.

At 5:25 on the 7th an email arrived from HMRC saying they thought a solution had been found and could we do a screen share in the morning? I was sent early on the 8th 7 or pages of screenshots of the steps we were going to do. I read through them and thought that this would not work – adding a new user – which we had tried. However, the last page indicated that the user also needed to be ticked to access the MTD system- which we had not done. You think if you have added a user to the MTD Gateway they would be able to file!

And this solved the problem!!!

HMRC takeaway from this is to ensure that such issues do not take so long in the future!

Another issue will be highlighted in the next blog post!

Have you had any MTD problems? The IT and Tax Faculties are keen to hear them.