How to authorise someone to deal with HMRC on your behalf

Completing your own tax returns on top of running a business can be a nightmare, not to mention confusing if you’ve never had to manage your taxes before, writes Rachael Johnston of The Accountancy Partnership, which provides online accountancy services nationwide for a low, fixed monthly fee.

Who will you choose for a helping hand with HMRC?

The good news is you can authorise a professional agent, friend, or family member to deal with HMRC on your behalf.

Whether you’re just looking for a helping hand, or someone to take the wheel while you focus on your business, let’s look at how you can authorise someone to deal with the taxman for you, and consider why it may be beneficial for you.

Can anyone deal with HMRC on your behalf?

As long as you get authorisation from HMRC – then absolutely.

By ‘authorising’ someone, you’re letting HMRC know they can discuss your account and tax affairs with the appointed individual.

Using an accountant or tax adviser -- known as a ‘paid agent,’ is more common, but people do authorise family members and friends to look after their accounts -- known as a ‘trusted helper.’

Both are ideal if you want to ensure everything which you’re sending off to HMRC is correct -- helping you to avoid any fines, while having more time run your business.

If giving over complete control of your dealings with HMRC feels too much, you can instead authorise a family member, friend, or voluntary organisation to help act as an ‘intermediary’ between yourself and HMRC. This means they can speak to HMRC regarding your account, helping where they can, while you have full control over your tax returns.

HMRC: How to authorise an agent

Firstly, you’ll need to check whether your chosen ‘agent’ meets HMRC’s standards for agents. Once the Revenue is happy they meet the requirements, they should give you the next steps.

The most common ways to authorise an agent are:

· Online

· Paper forms

· Through your business tax account

· A digital handshake (this is where your agent sends you a link)

What’s the process to authorise a trusted helper to manage your taxes online?

A trusted helper is great if you’d like a friend or relative to double-check things like whether your personal tax account is up-to-date; that you’ve claimed any refunds you are eligible for, and that you’re paying the right amount of income tax.

Someone that wants to be a trusted helper of your account will need to register online. Just double-check whether they’re helping anyone else at the same time -- you’re only allowed to be a trusted helper for up to five people at once!

Authorising someone to act as an intermediary to deal with HMRC

An intermediary doesn’t have access to your tax online account, but they can talk to HMRC and ask questions on your behalf, as well as help you fill out any forms.

The ‘intermediary’ can be a friend, relative or voluntary organisation.

To authorise an intermediary, you need to send a letter to HMRC which includes your name, UTR number, the name and address of the individual/organisation, as well as your signature.

It’s important to note, that if you ever needed to, you could authorise someone short-term to handle your taxes. For this, you need to call HMRC with the person you’d like to authorise.

Once you've HMRC-authorised your agent, are they responsible for your taxes?

Whether you’ve chosen a paid agent, a trusted helper, or someone to act as an intermediary, you will always be legally responsible for your taxes.

So always do your research when choosing a paid agent, or ensure you pick a friend or relative that can find the correct advice for you!

Tuesday 18th Jul 2023
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Written by Rachael Johnston

Rachael Johnston of The Accountancy Partnership is a content writer specialising in business, finance, and software. Rachael graduated with a master's in writing in 2019 and has since worked in diverse sectors, including recruitment and accounting, copywriting, content writing, and growth hacking. Her current focus is to simplify all things business and tax, making them easy to understand for everyone.

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