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SA1 still available to register clients for self assessment


Published: 19 Oct 2021 Update History

Tax agents can still register clients for self assessment using the online SA1 form despite HMRC having moved it behind the government gateway. ICAEW’s Tax Faculty explains what has changed.

ICAEW members have been reporting significant delays to the processing of self assessment registrations and, most recently, not being able to access the SA1 online form to start the registration process.

The SA1 is used to register individuals for self assessment in cases other than where a trade needs to be registered. Where a trade needs to be registered the register a self-employment or register a partner services should be used as appropriate.

There are two options for completing an SA1 available to agents and taxpayers, the first being the SA1 shortform which can be completed and submitted online. Until June 2021 this form was available directly from gov.uk but, to address a security concern, was moved behind government gateway credentials.

HMRC has confirmed to the Tax Faculty that agent credentials can be used to access the online SA1 form and submit a registration on behalf of a client. If agent credentials are used multifactor authentication is not required. However, the gov.uk guidance does not make it clear that agent credentials can be used and this has led many to believe that the registration can be completed only by the taxpayer – this is not the case.

The second SA1 option is an alternative form which is filled in online and then printed and posted. The link to this form was broken; it has now been restored but there have been reports of it being somewhat unreliable.

When the registration is processed the Unique Taxpayer Reference is sent to the taxpayer, not the agent.

Dialogue with HMRC on SA1 delays

The Tax Faculty is in ongoing discussions with HMRC about the delays to the processing of SA1 registrations (among other problems with HMRC services) which can take up to six weeks even when things are working normally.

Some of the delays arise because HMRC has needed to respond to a very significant increase in fraudulent self assessment registrations (followed by a fraudulent repayment claim) by adding additional security steps and checks.

The faculty warns that some self assessment registrations may not be processed in time to allow the 2020/21 self assessment return to be submitted by 31 January 2022. The due date for a return is always three months from the date of the notice to file, though late notification and payment penalties may be a concern. 

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