The ATT, along with the other major professional taxation and accountancy bodies, communicates regularly with HMRC to raise operational issues or concerns. In turn, HMRC will communicate to professional bodies details of changes to systems or processes and any concerns which they consider that tax agents need to be aware of. The aim of each party in providing feedback is to improve HMRC operations for the benefit of HMRC, agents and their clients, and the wider public.
The main route through which agents can raise general queries about HMRC systems or processes that they come across in day-to-day practice is the Agent Forum.
The Agent Forum is monitored by members of the Issues Overview Group (IOG) who look to identify potentially widespread issues that need to be escalated further within HMRC or to the agent community outside of the forum.
The current version of the Agent Forum was launched on 7 October 2019. Tax agents can use the Forum to flag up concerns to HMRC, contribute their experiences as evidence and search to see whether the issues they are experiencing are also being faced by others, and what is being done about them. Agents will also receive updates on service issues and other relevant information from by HMRC via the Forum.
How to sign up
The Agent Forum is only visible to tax agents who are members of a professional body such as the ATT and CIOT, who have signed up to the Forum and been accepted by HMRC.
The Forum sits within HMRC's Customer Forums, which are intended for the wider public. To get access to the Agent Forum, you will need to set up a profile on the Customer Forum first and then request access to the Agent Forum. As part of the registration you will be asked for your name, professional body and membership number - it is not possible to post anonymously on the Agent Forum. Once the necessary details have been submitted, HMRC aim to approve your application within two working days. A step by step guide to signing up can be found here.
If you were already a contributor to the previous forum, then you should have received a link and instructions for transferring to the new forum when it went live in October 2019.
How to use the forum
The Forum is intended as a place for agents to report issues that are potentially widespread and affect a number of taxpayers or agents. It is not the appropriate place to raise client specific queries. No details which could be used to identify a client or other taxpayer should be posted onto the Forum. Where HMRC ask for details of a specific client's situation to provide evidence of the issue, this should be sent separately to [email protected], with the title of the thread and the thread reference in the subject line.
Members are reminded that the usual professional standards of behaviour apply to posts on the Forum as they would to any other form of communication with HMRC. The Forum itself has a board headed 'Agent Forum Guidance and User Information' which includes an Agent Forum good practice guide, further details on how the Forum operates and hints and tips on Forum use. Members are advised to familiarize themselves with these documents before posting on the Forum. Members who do not abide by the Forum rules can be removed from the Forum at HMRC's discretion.
Where an agent is experiencing a client-specific problem then a more effective route to resolution may be to contact one of HMRC's Agent Account Managers.
Professional body involvement
The Agent Forum is monitored by members of the Issues Overview Group (IOG), which includes the ATT. The IOG seek to identify potentially widespread issues to highlight to HMRC, to ask for issues which have not been satisfactorily resolved to be looked at again and to highlight relevant issues to members who are not on the Forum. There is a formal escalation route published by HMRC which sets out the process through which concerns can be raised at higher levels within HMRC.
Members of ATT who don't wish to use the Agent Forum, or have a concern that they feel has not been adequately addressed on the Forum, should contact us.
Issues Overview Group
The Issues Overview Group (IOG) seeks to identify widespread operational issues with HMRC systems and processes - primarily raised on the Agent Forum - that need to be escalated within HMRC for their attention. The IOG will also seek to share these issues with the wider agent community outside of the Agent Forum. The group consists of professional bodies. Full details of the terms of reference of the group can be found on GOV.UK.
The ATT is represented on the IOG by a volunteer member in practice and one of our technical officers. The ATT's current representatives are:
- Member volunteer: Senga Prior
- Technical officer: Helen Thornley
Members who have concerns about widespread issues are welcome to provide feedback to Senga or Helen on [email protected].
Other HMRC Groups
The ATT aims to work with HMRC in a collaborative manner, representing the interests of members and the general public and acting as a ‘critical friend’ to HMRC. Representatives from the ATT attend the following HMRC groups regularly, as well as engaging with HMRC on a more ad-hoc basis. Minutes as prepared by HMRC from the formal groups, where publicly available, can be accessed via the relevant links below.
- Additional Needs Working Group
- Agents Digital Design & Advisory Group
- Capital Taxes Liaison Group
- Changing Self-Employed Income Tax Basis Periods
- Charter Stakeholder Group
- Compliance Reform Forum, and Dispute Resolution sub-group
- Counter Avoidance Group
- Customer Experience External Stakeholder Advisory Group
- Employment and Payroll Group
- Guidance Strategy Forum
- Joint VAT Consultative Committee
- Land and Property Liaison Group (VAT)
- Making Tax Digital Programme Progress Forum
- One-to-Many Compliance Advisory Board
- Promoting Digital Channel Shift for Income Tax Services
- Representative Body Steering Group
- Research and Development Communication Forum
- Tax Administration Framework Review Forum
- Timely Payment Working Group
- Trust and Estates Agent Advisory Group and Bereavement Group
- Virtual Communications Group
- Wealthy External Forum
Some of the above groups are attended by ATT volunteers. If you would be interested in such a role, please visit our volunteering page to find out more.