The agent forum is now the main way for you to raise general, i.e. non-client specific, issues with HMRC. It’s just been revamped, so what do you need to know to use it effectively?

Main way into HMRC

The era of HMRC face-to-face contact with practitioners via the Working Together initiative is all but over. If you want to feed issues into HMRC, the route is via the agent forum. This is now HMRC’s main interface with advisors.

Pro advice. The forum often gets information about service issues and updates before they’re published elsewhere on GOV.UK.

Use the forum to flag up concerns about HMRC operational issues, by posting queries to it. You can also reply to an existing topic thread if you have a tip to offer. Essentially you use the forum to see if your problem is impacting other advisors, and if there are suggested fixes. HMRC monitors the threads and will report on what’s being done about the issue. Using the forum will strengthen your professional body’s arm in dealing with HMRC, by showing something isn’t just an isolated issue. The professional bodies’ Issues Overview Group (IOG) keeps a watching brief on the forum, identifying issues that may need further escalation with HMRC.

Pro advice. The forum is not the route to raise client-specific issues. Use HMRC’s Agent Account Manager service for this (see Follow up ). Don’t post details identifying individual clients. If HMRC requires further information such as more client-specific material, e-mail this separately to agentforum.wt@hmrc.gov.uk.

Access

You are eligible to join the forum if you are a member of one of the professional accounting or tax bodies. The revamped forum went live on 7 October 2019. If you were a member of the old forum, you will have to reregister.

Pro advice. You should have received an e-mail from HMRC with a link to the new platform with instructions on how to reregister. Essentially, the process is the same as that for first-time joiners.

Registration is a two-step process. The first gets you access to the customer forums. These are intended for the public to use, and so you need to go to your new profile and click “Request agent forums access” . You then provide details of your professional body and membership number. HMRC should complete its approval process in two working days.

Pro advice. The Association of Taxation Technicians has produced step-by-step screenshots of the sign-up process (see Follow up ).

Using the forum

Once you have your registration processed, the landing page will give you access to a knowledge base and forums. The knowledge base is a centralised way to access the Agent Update newsletters as well as HMRC webinars, toolkits and internal manuals. It also contains general information about service availability and known issues here. The list of forums includes Capital Gains, CIS, Corporation Tax, Ideas and suggestions, Making Tax Digital, Making Tax Digital for VAT, National Insurance, Others, PAYE, Self-Assessment, Trusts and Estates (including Trust Registration Service) and VAT. Within any of these, you can reply to a comment by simply posting at the end of a thread. Create a new thread by paging down to the bottom of the list of existing threads.

You will need to register for the new-look platform, even if you were registered for the old one. Once you have access, use the knowledge base and forums to access information about service availability and known issues. Use the forum as a means of checking whether issues you are experiencing are at your end or HMRC’s.

Agent Account Manager Service – HMRC Forum