Jim Harra, HMRC's director-general of business tax, sets out HMRC's view on the role of the tax agent once the department has introduced its new digital services.

Some key points:

  • The future is digital - HMRC's plan is to launch new personalised digital services for taxpayers.
  • This changes the role of the agent - HMRC expects that taxpayers will self-serve. As a result, they won't rely so much on agents to manage the basics, but will instead look to agents to handle more complex issues.
  • Some experts are concerned that this means HMRC regulation by the backdoor - HMRC insists that's not the case, but they do say that when an agent represents a taxpayer, they will want to know what services that agent is providing. HMRC will use data on how agents and their clients comply with tax obligations to monitor performance of paid agents. And HMRC will intervene where agents' standards fall short – and may cut-off services for agents in some cases.

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