Despite numerous problems that agents are experiencing in trying to re-register with HMRC for anti-money laundering, the April 1 deadline is going ahead.
HMRC is not only holding to the deadline, but has said that agents who have not re-registered by midnight this Saturday will be de-registered, and will then be charged £100 as new applicants.
EYE has asked HMRC to re-consider, saying it is unfair.
EYE had forwarded to HMRC the link to our story yesterday, where a number of agents posted up their experiences.
More agents emailed EYE editor Rosalind Renshaw their experiences, and we sent HMRC – with no names mentioned – a synopsis of some of the main complaints.
Most agents have until April 1 to register, as this was the date that HMRC took over responsibility for AML in 2014.
But almost all of the agents who contacted us yesterday say that they have already been trying to re-register for weeks on end, without success, and have no chance of meeting Sunday’s deadline.
Some have told us that they have received emails from HMRC telling them they have messages relating to their AML supervision – but have been unable to access the messages, and can only assume they are about the need to re-register.
Others told us they have been informed that it will take 40 or 45 days to confirm whether or not they are registered.
Any agent not registered for AML supervision is in legal breach of their obligations.
Yesterday evening, an HMRC spokesperson said: “We are aware that a number of customers have forgotten or lost their log-in details, and we are assisting them to reset these so that they can access their AMLS accounts.
“Businesses due to renew their registration are sent up to three emails in the 30 days before their renewal date, reminding them that they need to renew.
“Once a business has paid and submitted their renewal, they are treated as registered regardless of how long it takes HMRC to review their submission.”
The statement added: “For customers whose renewal year runs from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 the online system will automatically cancel their registration if renewal hasn’t been made by midnight on 31 March. Once registration has been cancelled the business will need to reapply and pay a new application charge of £100 as well as their premises fees.”
As we have said, EYE has asked HMRC to reconsider.
We would also strongly suggest that any agent adversely affected contact their MP.
The re-registration nightmare
These are just some of the issues highlighted in emails to EYE yesterday:
* I am experiencing issues while trying to renew my registration. It all started last week when I partially completed the application. When I endeavoured to complete the process the following day their system would not allow me to ‘Continue’ as this link did nothing when trying to click it. Reported the problem online, received an automated reply and eventually another email with ‘ticket’ reference number and message stating an engineer will investigate.
* I have filled in all the required data and tried to re-register only to get message ‘membership being reviewed, allow 45 days for a reply’. Another reader was quoted 40 days.
* I keep getting emails that I have a message and to log in, but can’t log in as I haven’t got the my log-in details. I’m presuming the message is that I need to renew. (This specific problem was reported more than once.)
* The HMRC registration website is a complete joke, when you eventually do get through, it constantly rejects your payments or at least it appears to but you don’t know because it doesn’t acknowledge payments and of course you no longer get a registration document.
* I start the process but when I finish I am told that I have already registered under a different number. I am not told which number and the help email that follows offers insufficient assistance.
*We have 4 companies to register. 3 went through no problem but unable to do the 4th company as HMRC haven’t processed last year’s registration online and so won’t let me do this year’s. Have reported to HMRC who have promised to get back to me in the next 5 working days. I stipulated over the phone that this needs to be done by the 1st April.
* Having major problems trying to get into our AML account. We’ve tried retrieving the password, then trying to re-set the password, but no luck despite numerous attempts and phone calls to the HMRC helpline. After waiting ages, and being asked to make endless selections (press 1, 2, 3, 4 etc), we got through, but the HMRC helpline advisers don’t know where to direct our enquiries.
* Reader who is retiring from estate agency has been unable to access his account to de-register his business. Instead, he says he has been told to register again – which is of course absurd. However, as he has been warned that failure to re-register by the deadline means he will no longer be supervised by HMRC, he considers it “job done”.
* One agent, with a deadline different from April 1, was sent a letter saying he would be fined £1,000. This was after he spent two months trying to re-register. The agent has now managed to do this after the helpline gave him a new web-link: www.tax.service.gov.uk/anti-money-laundering