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Besieging the Government Gateway

3/1/2013

So… registering as an Agent with HMRC Online.  How difficult can it be?  I’ll dash it off after lunch, and then have the rest of the afternoon to work through some other tasks as part of my New Year’s Resolution to clear my in-tray before the REAL back-to-work day on Monday 7th.

So… registering as an Agent with HMRC Online.  How difficult can it be?  I’ll dash it off after lunch, and then have the rest of the afternoon to work through some other tasks as part of my New Year’s Resolution to clear my in-tray before the REAL back-to-work day on Monday 7th.

I need four online ‘agent’ registrations: Corporation Tax, Self Assessment, PAYE and VAT to enable me to perform filing on behalf of my clients.

For the first two I had to write a letter applying for agent codes.  On paper.  And post it, in an envelope with a stamp on. And then wait for HMRC to sharpen their quill and reply.  The second two can be done entirely online. What?

I did briefly look at this online registration business before Christmas, and thus the letter containing my two codes was delivered by a mud-spattered messenger on a lathered and exhausted steed just before the Christmas break.

So here we go…

First off, registration through www.hmrc.gov.uk/agents generates a new Government Gateway login, which I didn’t really want as I already have two (one personal, one for the business) and was hoping to lash the agency login to the business’s own, but hey-ho.  At least this way if I foul-up a password I get locked out of my client’s accounts, or my own, but not both. Look on the bright side.

Now I pursue PAYE Agency ‘enrol for service’ option, which asks again for all the details of my company which I’d already entered to get the new (unwanted) Gateway login, but at least then provides me with an “Agent Reference”.

Okey-doke.  Onwards with VAT agency.  Likewise, all the company details again, and lo!  Another “Agent Reference”.  Which won’t print, so I write it down.

Did I mention that all four applications require entry of my business address AND my registered address, neither of which are recognised by the system?  My post is delivered daily, and the house has been here since about 1890 and my accountant (my registered address) is in a building dating from about 1760 and has, I imagine, ironed out any difficulties with receiving mail, but neither address has a valid postcode apparently, and has to be entered ‘manually’.  Eight times.

Anyway, back to the main screen again, and down the “Self Assessment Agent” path… re-enter all the same details AGAIN, and now I get to enter the agent code sent in the letter.  Hurrah!

And likewise “Corporation Tax  Agency”.

Finally back to the main screen, and now re-enter “registered postcode” and the agent codes which have just been spat out by the self-same system… except that NONE of them will accept.  So I try again, using my business address postcode, and that works…  ”Postcode of the address which I registered” I guess was what they meant, rather than the “Registered Address postcode”.  Obviously.

Except that PAYE still won’t accept.  So I log out and back in again.  Still nope.  To be fair, the screen which gave me the Agent Reference warned me that there could be a delay of up to four working days whilst the code was painstakingly handcrafted by elves, so clearly the PAYE code is made of finer stuff than the VAT code which worked immediately.

Not to worry – let’s have a look at the agency screens, and see what they look like…

Except that I can’t because they now all want an Activation Code…  Three emails dutifully are waiting in my Inbox to inform me that the Activation Codes are being tied to pigeons as we speak, and should be with me within seven days, assuming there aren’t any hungry buzzards around.

So, no hurry then anyone….

Lucreative Business Services Ltd, Company No. 8274956, Registered Office: Millbrook House, Mill Road, Liss, GU33 7BD