Agent Services Account For MTD: How to Set It Up
Making Tax Digital (MTD) is changing how British citizens pay taxes. As of 2023, MTD is specifically for VAT-registered businesses. However, it will expand to others in 2026.
As a tax agent, it’s important to ensure that you’re properly filing your clients’ VAT returns. You must thoroughly understand what is Making Tax Digital (MTD) and how to prevent repercussions.
To file client returns through Making Tax Digital, agents must create an agent services account (ASA). You may continue using your current Government Gateway account for other purposes, but going forward, you must file taxes via your new agent services account.
- Agents must create an ASA to submit returns via MTD on behalf of their clients.
- Foreign agents with UK clients are eligible for an ASA account if they create a new Government Gateway user ID.
- An ASA can also be used for TRS or to pay capital gains on properties
- You may create your ASA on the Gov.uk website.
- You can no longer register your clients for MTD for VAT on the Gov.uk website.
- You may register clients for MTD for ITSA through your accounting software provider.
This article will take a closer look at agent services accounts so you can continue filing your clients’ VAT returns without interruption. You will learn:
What is an Agent Services Account (ASA)?
An agent services account lets you access numerous HMRC online services. However, you will not need an ASA to access all HMRC services. Your ASA is primarily for Making Tax Digital, but you can also use it to register estates or trusts.
For that reason, you may already have an agent services account if you registered for Trust Registration Service (TRS). Still, it is best to double-check with the HMRC instead of assuming you automatically registered when you signed up for the Trust Registration Service.
If your client is exempt from MTD, you may continue filing their returns with your existing Government Gateway account.
Online Services Available Through an Agent Services Account
There are several MTD processes that you can perform with your agent services account. Of course, filing MTD VAT returns is your top priority, but here are other MTD tasks you can do in your ASA.
- Register your clients for MTD
- Link clients to your agent services account (if they’re already linked to any existing Government Gateway IDs)
- File income tax through MTD
You may perform non-MTD processes in your agent services account as well. These tasks include:
- Authorize new VAT clients
- Sign up for TRS
- Pay capital gain on residential UK properties
You can utilize your agent services account to access various HMRC online services, including filing MTD VAT returns using FreshBooks MTD VAT software.
How to Set Up an Agent Services Account
To set up an agent services account, all you need to do is register online on Gov.uk. If you’re a new tax agent, you must register as an agent before you can set up your ASA.
You’ll need to have the following information handy when you sign up.
- Your current Government Gateway user ID and password
- Your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and the associated postcode
- The name of your money laundering supervisory agent (you cannot register if you’re waiting for your application to a supervisory body to go through)
- Your business number (if applicable)
- Your VAT registration number (if applicable)
- Your National Insurance Number (if you’re a sole trader or business partner)
- Any Government Gateway IDs that you use to submit VAT returns for your clients
Tax agents operating outside the UK may also register if they have UK clients. In that case, you must verify that your business adheres to the UK’s Anti Money Laundering Supervision standards or a foreign equivalent.
Non-UK agents must provide the following information to register.
- Full name
- Job title
- Phone number
- Email address
- Business trading name
- Business address (cannot be a PO box or third-party address)
You’ll need to provide photographic proof of your business address, tax agent registration, and money laundering supervisory compliance.
Once you have everything ready, follow these steps to create your ASA.
- Go to the ‘Create an agent services account’ page on Gov.uk
- Click ‘Create Now’
- Follow the on-screen prompts and note your Agent Reference Number (ARN)
The HMRC advises agents to use their existing Government Gateway IDs to register. These are the steps to do so.
- Go to the HMRC agent services account page
- Log in with your current Government Gateway ID and password
- Follow the prompts and mark down your ARN
If you encounter issues as you follow the prompts, click the ‘Get help with this page’ option. Foreign agents who don’t have a Government Gateway User ID must create one when they sign up for this service.
How to Sign Your Clients Up for MTD
Your clients may self-register for MTD. Communicate with them to make sure they need you to register for them.
The ‘Sign up your client for Making Tax Digital for VAT’ page on Gov.uk was withdrawn in February 2023 because all VAT-registered businesses must now follow MTD for VAT. However, the ‘Sign up your client for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax’ is available.
MTD for ITSA (Income Tax Self-Assessment) is currently in its soft landing period. As such, not all taxpayers are eligible to register yet. Verify that your client is eligible before you try to register them.
You may register your client’s data for MTD for ITSA through an MTD-compatible software tool. Contact your software provider to collect registration details. Clients may self-register on Gov.uk.
Tips for Agents to Prepare for MTD
- Segment your client list into clients who will need MTD and those who will not. This will make it easier for you to track who must adhere to MTD practices.
- Educate your existing clients about MTD and clear up any misconceptions they may have.
- Regularly remind everyone on your client lists about upcoming MTD deadlines.
- Get used to accounting software tools and help your clients find one that works for them.
- Switch to digital record keeping for all tax information. Even if it’s not required yet, it’s a good idea to get used to it ahead of time.
- Transcribe any paper records to digital as soon as possible. Transcription is not valid under Making Tax Digital, only do this to convert older records.
- Mark your calendars so you’re prepared to switch to a quarterly payment schedule instead of an annual one.
- Add MTD to the conversation whenever you welcome new clients.
- Recognise that MTD for VAT and MTD for ITSA are two different things. One client may have to adhere to both.
- Start thinking about MTD for ITSA now. 2026 will come fast.
If you’re still searching for a functional compatible software tool, FreshBooks accounting software is fully MTD-compliant. Our user-friendly interface makes it easy to submit returns and digitally link your programs as required. Click here to start your free trial with FreshBooks today.
As a tax agent, you may register your clients for MTD. However, you must create an agent service account to do so. This account is not the same as your agent account. You will need to re-register on Gov.uk.
Please be aware that the MTD for VAT registration period has passed. You can no longer register clients online for MTD for VAT. You may now register your clients for MTD for ITSA via your functional compatible software provider.
FAQs On Agent Services Account
Who is called an Agent?
A tax agent is anyone who helps someone maintain their tax records without bearing primary responsibility for payments. They may or may not be certified public accountants.
What is my Agent Reference Number?
Your ARN is an eight-digit number that the HMRC uses to track agents. Every registered tax agent in the UK has one, but you may only have known yours after you signed up for an ASA. You may use this number to sign in to your agent service account.
Can I delegate access to my agent services account?
You may set up one of your employees as an administrator in your ASA. Please consult Gov.uk for further guidance on administrative matters.
Is there a limit on the number of clients I can manage with my agent services account?
You can only have one ASA per agent or business. However, you can manage all of your existing services and clients in your ASA.
What happens if I forget the login details for my agent services account?
You can recover your login details.
- Go to the HMRC service page
- Scroll down until you “lost user ID or password”
- Click “recover your user ID”
- You should receive a verification email with reset instructions. Please make sure you have access to the email associated with your ASA.
About the author
Balil Warraich is an ACCA and CPA with over ten years of experience in the financial space. He specializes in accounting, assurance, and taxation services. Balil currently resides in British Columbia, Canada, where you’ll find him at https://www.notioncpa.com/