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New guidance on agent authorisations and updating ASA details


Published: 23 Aug 2021 Update History

HMRC has confirmed that that it cannot accept bulk transfers of client authorisations to a different agent code. A process to allow agents to update their firm’s details in their agent services account is now available. ICAEW’s Tax Faculty explains HMRC’s updated guidance.

HMRC has published new guidance on how to change or remove your authorisations as a tax agent, explaining which changes to agent accounts  can be made online and which  must be requested by telephone or in writing.

Moving client authorisations to a new agent code

In the past HMRC has occasionally agreed to transfer client authorisations from one agent code to a different one, for example when a firm restructures to form a different legal entity, merges or buys a block of fees from another firm.

HMRC’s policy is that, in these situations, it needs a new authorisation specifying the correct legal entity authorised to act on behalf of the client. HMRC has confirmed to the Tax Faculty that this policy will now be enforced.

This means a significant amount of administration to set up new authorisations, but is necessary to comply with GDPR requirements and ensure that correct authorisation is in place, protecting all parties.

Updating ASA designatory details

It has taken HMRC an extraordinary four years following the introduction of the agent services account (ASA) to introduce a process that allows agents to update the postal address, email address and other designatory details associated with that account.

HMRC is now accepting changes notified by agents and the Tax Faculty understands that HMRC is working through the backlog of change requests that have been submitted by agents.

Unfortunately, the new process is a manual one; to update ASA details agents must write to:
National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office, HMRC, BX9 1AN
and include the following information:

  • name and relationship to the business (letter must be from a director, company secretary, sole trader, proprietor or partner)
  • details that currently show in the account which need to change (business name, postal address, email address
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) of the firm
  • phone number

The guidance highlights the lack of a single online process whereby agents can update their address or other details.

The Tax Faculty continues to press for more streamlined agent registration, authentication and authorisation processes and understands that HMRC has plans for this work, but that significant improvement is dependent on funding being available.

Further reading:


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Building a better tax system for the UK - the potential implications of HMRC's consultation on the Tax Administration Review Framework
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