Article by Wendy Rowe, the Personal Taxation Software Director at CCH Software Ltd, published in the December 2001 issue of Tax Adviser. Agent filing is the submission of electronic, individual SA100 tax returns and supplementary pages from a personal tax software package via the Internet to the Inland Revenue website on a client’s behalf. On receipt of the file, the Revenue sends an instant response back confirming the file has been received.
This means that there are now three methods of filing personal tax returns available to Agents:
Requirements for agent Internet filing
- Post – by sending in the paper form to the Inland Revenue;
- Electronic Lodgement Service (ELS) – Most personal tax software providers support ELS by producing an electronic file which can be submitted to the Revenue using communication software and a modem. The Revenue will continue to support ELS until at least April 2003; this means a full ELS service will be available to cover 2001/2002 tax returns; and
- Internet filing –the Client can submit the electronic file directly to the Revenue website or, with the launch of Agent Filing, agents can file returns across the Internet on the client’s behalf. Internet filing for agents was made available in August this year and the Revenue website gives details of the software providers who support this method.
Personal Tax Software
First you need to ensure that you have personal tax software that supports Internet filing. This means that your software company is shown on the Revenue website as an approved software provider for Internet filing. The main functionality requirements of this are:
- the production and validation of the electronic file (known as XML);
- the ability to connect to the Revenue web site for transmission;
- transmission of the electronic file;
- collection of the response message; and
- ability to view.
Second you need a personal computer (PC) with personal tax software and an Internet connection. This can be achieved in a couple of ways, either using ‘Proxy’, which is where PCs on your network have the ability to connect to the Internet without having to dial up, or having the facility from your PC to dial into the Internet using an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
This is not absolutely necessary. However, if you do want to be able to receive information from the Revenue you will need to provide an e-mail address as part of the registration process. The Revenue will use this address to send you news updates.
What you need to do
In order to use Agent Filing you first need to register for Internet filing on the Revenue website; the following Internet address will take you to a detailed explanation on how to register
Customs & Excise
Prior to registering you will need to know your Agent Code. The easiest place to find this is on the cover sheet for the Self Assessment Clients’ Account Information Sheets (SA 327). If you have any difficulty you should either ask your local tax office or telephone the e-Business help desk on 0845 6055999. You will be asked to give your name, e-mail address (optional) and password of your choice when registering.
Once you have registered, you can enrol for the Internet service for self-assessment on the Revenue Gateway web pages. At this stage you will be asked to enter your assessment agent code and postcode when selecting the self-assessment service.
Receive User ID
Once you have registered and enrolled you will be sent a User ID or activation Personal Identification Number (PIN) in the post. This number must be used on the Revenue Gateway web pages within 14 days of receipt to switch on the self-assessment service.
Using the service
Prior to November 2001 each and every client had to have registered themselves through the Gateway individually, to have activated the self-assessment service and have authorised you to act on their behalf (by typing in your User ID).
The good news is that from last month, – if you are intending to start using the service and providing you are registered already – there will be no need for any of your clients to register themselves individually. All agents who have registered to use the service will be automatically authorised to send an individual’s return over the Internet provided the Revenue holds a form 64-8 for that client.
Points to note
- Your clients still need to sign the Tax Return before you are legally authorised under self-assessment to submit it on behalf of your client.
- Once you have registered to use the self- assessment Internet filing service, you will not be required to register again.
- If you are looking to use this service ensure that all your clients have a form 64-8 registered with the Revenue. The Revenue will be able to provide you with a listing of the clients you are authorised to act for.
- Unlike ELS there is no requirement to install additional Revenue communication software.
020 7235 9381
December 2001 by