COVID-19: HMRC confirms agent authorisation for CJRS claims
17 April: The Tax Faculty has received an update from HMRC on authorising agents to make Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant applications on behalf of clients. Read the step-by-step guide.
Agents must be registered for the PAYE for Agents online service with HMRC and have a PAYE agent code.
If an agent is unsure of the level of authorisation they have for an existing employer PAYE client, they should check the list of payroll clients in their agent portal. If the client is listed as ‘confirmed’ they can make CJRS applications on their client’s behalf. If they are not listed, or listed as ‘limited authorisation’ the agent cannot currently claim on behalf of the client.
Members have reported to the Tax Faculty that the portal sometime shows ‘limited authorisation’ when full authorisation is in place. Agents may wish to check with HMRC if they think the authorisation information on the portal is incorrect.
There are three possible ways to set up the appropriate authority:
- A paper FBI2 form – not currently recommended due to possible postal and processing delays
- Agent initiated online agent authorisation process from the agent portal – not currently recommended due to possible delays receiving the authentication code, which is posted to the client to give to the agent.
- Client initiated authorisation process from their business tax account. This is the quickest route to setting up the appropriate authority and is explained in detail in Step 4.
- The client must have set up a business tax account and have enrolled for PAYE online for employers (activation codes have been temporarily suspended so this is instantaneous). Download a step-by-step guide.
- The agent must give the client their ‘agent identifier’. Exactly which identifier is required often causes confusion The agent can obtain their ‘agent identifier’ by:
1. Signing in to their agent portal using the credentials they use for payroll clients. On the homepage select ‘Authorise client’ from the left-hand main menu.
2. The appropriate identifier will appear on the next screen under the heading ‘Agent identifier’
The client must then follow the following steps:
- Sign in to their business tax account
- Select ‘Manage Account’, then
- Select ‘Add, view or change tax agent’ option under the heading Tax Agents, then
- Select ‘PAYE for employers’, then
- Click ‘continue’ to get to the ‘Manage who can access your taxes and schemes’ page, then
- Click the ‘Add an agent’ link next to the relevant service (PAYE in this instance), then
- Enter the agent identifier provided by the agent (confusingly described on this screen as the Agents Government Gateway ID) and click continue, then
- Click on ‘Add Agent’ to confirm they want to add the selected agent.
- The taxpayer will receive on-screen confirmation the agent has been added.
HMRC is exploring ways to make agent authorisations simpler and hopes to publish further guidance on Tuesday 21 April 2020.
Caroline Miskin of ICAEW’s Tax Faculty, commented: “The process described is very cumbersome and will not be appropriate for some clients, but it does offer a solution that allows an agent to be appointed without the delay a paper form or relying on the post for the authentication code would bring.
"We are pleased that HMRC has set out the process in such detail and look forward to a simpler process being made available. The promise of the grant may focus the minds of clients and ensure their cooperation in the authorisation process, if the agent talks them through it. However, we are concerned about reports that the authorisation details shown on the agent portal may be misleading.”