Despite all the raging debate, the everyday life of accountants and bookkeepers who act as agents for their clients is not going to change with Making Tax Digital (MTD). That doesn't mean that there aren't things they need to do but for clarity, they're really one-off things to do with readiness and therefore they just need a process in place to make sure it all get's done.
If you're reading this because you're in a panic, make sure you've read our MTD Shortcut so you can breathe easy to take in the next bits!
While the press and pundits keep talking about 1st April 2019, there are in practical terms different deadlines for readiness.
Agents offer varying level of services to their clients but they key determinant in MTD preparation is who has responsibility for submitting VAT Returns. If it is the client, then agents need only advise the client on readiness. If it is the agent then there is very real work to be done!
The 10 steps outlined here apply to agents who have responsibility for submitting VAT Returns on behalf of their clients.
Process for Agent Readiness
Identify the clients who are impacted by MTD
Prioritise clients for processing according to their target date for readiness
Register for a new Agent Services Account with HMRC here
Get software that is compatible with MTD from here - this is not necessary if VAT returns are calculated and submitted using the clients' software
Authorise your software supplier to connect to HMRC
Process each client (see next process)
NOTE: Agents who already have credentials for the Government Gateway will still need to create a new Agent Services Account. This means that agents will end up with two sets of Government Gateway IDs and passwords : one for submitting VAT Returns for clients who are in the scope of MTD and one for other submissions e.g. Income Tax, Corporation Tax etc.
Process for Client Readiness
Ensure the software that is going to be use for recording the client's transactions and submitting the client's VAT Returns is MTD compatible by checking here
If the agent has acted for the client before, the client should be linked to the agent via the Agent Services Account
If the agent has not acted for the client before (e.g. new client or existing client who has asked for agent services) then an authorisation link must be obtained via the Agent Services Account and sent to the client (the client must click on the link within 14 days)
The agent should confirm that the client appears in the list of clients via the Agent Services Account.
Last Step in Agent Readiness
The agent should log into their Agent Services Account and check that all clients they will be submitting VAT Returns for are in the list of linked clients.
How Onkho can help
Onkho's cloud based practice management solution allows accountants and bookkeepers to build and track their own processes and workflow so its an invaluable aid for MTD readiness. To see how the 10 step process can be built and tracked in Onkho continue reading here.
Emanur is a former management accountant turned Chief Technology Officer. After 20 years working his technology and accounting skills in investment banking he left his role as a CTO at The London Stock Exchange Group to found onkho. Emanur pushes the business' strategy and execution and occasionally opines on what he thinks is interesting.