It is proposed that (for the majority of cases) the process of linking a registered tax intermediary to a taxpayer will work as follows.
- The taxpayer provides their IRD number to their tax intermediary.
- The tax intermediary submits a request through their myIR secure online service account to link to the taxpayer.
- The taxpayer accepts the linking request via their myIR account.
- The taxpayer is automatically directed to a self-service menu in myIR, where they must select what information the intermediary can view (such as the tax types), and whether or not the intermediary can edit the taxpayer’s contact details or bank account details, or file tax returns on the taxpayer’s behalf.
- The tax intermediary can view the taxpayer’s authorised information in their myIR account. If they have permission, they can also file tax returns for the client or edit the client’s details.
For those who do not have internet access, or who do not want to use online self-service, the following alternative process is proposed.
- The tax intermediary submits the linking request in myIR or through the intermediary self-service phone line and indicates the taxpayer’s preferred method of confirming the request and setting up the intermediary’s access rights.
- The taxpayer accepts the linking request using their preferred channel and authorises the intermediary’s access to their information and any ability to edit details or file returns.
The tax intermediary can only access a taxpayer’s information or file tax returns when the taxpayer accepts the linking request, regardless of the way the linking request was made or accepted. The online process offers a considerable time advantage over alternatives of phone contact and submitting forms.
The process could also work in reverse, so the taxpayer could make the linking request and choose the access for their intermediary. The intermediary accepts the linking request and is then given the access authorised by the taxpayer.
The process around linking to a tax intermediary and deciding the level of access will need to be clear to taxpayers so that they understand what they need to do. Tax intermediaries will have to explain the process to their clients. However, there is a risk that some taxpayers may perceive the process as too complicated, or may not realise that they should choose their intermediary’s level of access. They may give their intermediary their personal log-in details so that the intermediary will do it for them.
This would defeat the policy objective of requiring the taxpayer to make an active decision about their intermediary’s access and inform Inland Revenue of their choice.
In this situation, the intermediary could set a level of access which is greater than necessary for them to perform the tasks that they have been engaged to do.
A more serious concern is that if the intermediary has the taxpayer’s log-in details, possible fraud or dishonesty may result with no oversight by the taxpayer. Taxpayers will need to understand that they must be careful to keep their log-in details secret, and that sharing their log-in details breaches the terms and conditions of myIR.
Most tax intermediaries, as well as the majority of taxpayers that they represent, will likely want to use the online self-service option. As long as the taxpayer promptly accepts the request, the intermediary will have real time access. This will save time and effort for taxpayers and their intermediaries, allow taxpayers more control over their information, and make the process more administratively efficient.