When you onboard with us, we’ll ask you to authorise us to file taxes on your behalf. We do this by linking our “agent access” login to each of your HMRC tax references. You might be wondering why we prefer to have our own agent access instead of logging into yours. Ultimately, it protects you, us, and makes the process of liaising with HMRC much smoother.


Agent access lets us talk to HMRC on your behalf

Once you’ve authorised us to access your online tax information, HMRC should send copies of all correspondence to us. It means one less thing on your plate as we take care of all your financial admin and you focus on the important stuff.

We can also converse with HMRC directly, so you don’t have to. If we submit a VAT return with a sizable VAT reclaim, HMRC may want to see backup before releasing the payment to you. Having our own agent access means we can come in and provide HMRC with any documentation they need and deal with any queries they have. We will always run things past you first, but it means that we can deal with HMRC for you.


It protects you as a business owner

At Starfish, we provide fee protection cover to every single one of our clients. It means if there’s an HMRC investigation into your tax affairs, the work we do to resolve it won’t be charged to you. 

In this situation, having our own agent access guarantees HMRC will speak to us to sort things out. If it’s all done through your own online tax account, HMRC won’t know we look after you and will refuse to talk to us.


It shows who’s filed what (giving you added protection)

Using an agent login provides clear evidence of who has filed what. It’s a bit like an audit trail; if there’s a problem, we can quickly see who filed it on which account. It ultimately grants you added protection as a business owner.

Think of it this way: if we were a dodgy accountant filing a fraudulent R&D tax credits claim, our agent access means HMRC would quickly be able to check who else we’ve been filing for. If everything had gone through your login instead of our agent access, HMRC would think you had filed it without any professional advice.


When an accountant requests your login, it can be a red flag

If a finance professional is keen to do your tax return through your business HMRC login rather than via their agent access, it’s a sign they don’t want to be associated with that filing. Whether they have bad intentions or not, it’s a pretty good indication they aren’t a reliable accountant.

It’s something to take extra care with when it comes to R&D tax credits. Up until recently, HMRC accepted R&D tax credits claims without conducting many detailed checks. After it was found that people claimed excessive R&D tax credits, HMRC have been clamping down and performing checks on older claims, issuing penalties for fraudulent claims. 

If your accountant had filed the R&D tax credits claim through your own login, they wouldn’t be traceable to that filing. If they had filed for false R&D tax credits, it would be much harder for HMRC to hold them accountable.


We can log in without interrupting you

HMRC sign-in requires two-factor authentication. If we used your login, you would either need to add our mobile number, or send us 2FA codes whenever we wanted to log in. It all gets quite complicated. It’s difficult to change the two-factor authentication details, and if you have more than one director it could prevent others from accessing the account.

Logging in using your details could also be a breach of privacy. It’s extra data we’d need to request from you, and if you’re using the same password for various things it’s just not ideal.

There are rare exceptions when our agent access won’t give us a specific document or file we need, like Postponed VAT Accounting statements. In this case, we will ask you to download the statements for us (or, if strongly preferred, log in via your access), but this is very much an exception to the rule.


Take tax filing off your to-do list

As a business owner, HMRC compliance is just one of the many things on your mind. From filing to dealing with queries and admin, we take it all off your plate, so you can focus on the important stuff. Get started here.