What is an HMRC trusted helper?

Most taxpayers know that you can give an accountant or tax professional permission to act on your behalf with HMRC. But you can also appoint, what HMRC calls, a ‘trusted helper’.

This is a family member or friend that can help you with your online tax affairs on your behalf, without there being a fee involved.

What can an HMRC trusted helper do?

It’s of paramount importance to remember that each individual taxpayer has ultimate legal responsibility for paying the right amount of tax and submitting the right paperwork to HMRC at the right time.

Hiring a professional, or using a trusted helper, doesn’t absolve you of this. They don’t take on the liability, they’re just helping you sort things out.

A trusted helper can:

  • Check and update a personal tax account
  • See if the right amount of Income Tax is being paid
  • Look at taxable benefits and make some necessary adjustments
  • See if there are any tax rebates to be claimed

How do I become a trusted helper?

You need to register online in order to be recognised as an official trusted helper. You can be a trusted helper for up to five individuals.

There has been a big change to this system. It used to be the case that you could only register to be a trusted helper through GOV.UK Verify. But this system is being incrementally shut down by HMRC.

If you already have an existing trusted helper relationship, this will be transferred across to Government Gateway. So this should be a smooth transition for people who are already set up with a Government Gateway account.

New trusted helpers will have to use their Government Gateway account to register. So if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to allow time to get through the Identify Verification security steps involved with Government Gateway registration.

The person that you’re advocating for will then need to go online to confirm your registration with the trusted helper scheme. If this isn’t possible, you might be able to sort things out with HMRC over the phone.

As a trusted helper you are able to support people to manage their online tax affairs.

What kind of people register as trusted helpers?

In 2019, Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute’s Employment, Welfare and Skills (EWS) team published qualitative research to answer this question.

They discovered 3 main characteristics of currently registered trusted helpers: expertise, organisational skills and altruism. They “were not mutually exclusive, rather they were typified by elements of these characteristics, often overlapping with one another.”

Essentially, and unsurprisingly, people in the role of trusted helper want to support people using their extensive tax knowledge and organisational skills.

Sometimes they were ex-accountants or tax advisers themselves. And trusted helpers are usually family or friends of the person being helped.

The research found some common links between the people who used trusted helpers to navigate their tax affairs:

  • Lack of knowledge about the tax system
  • Digitally unconfident, so had restricted communication with HMRC to mail or phone
  • Excluded from the system, for a variety of reasons. For example, physical or mental health issues, literacy and numeracy education barriers, digital awareness. (Ex-offenders that missed the growth of the internet to today’s all-pervasiveness while serving their sentence.)
  • Lack of internet access
  • Language barrier, if English an additional language
  • Fear of getting things wrong (possibility of HMRC penalties being imposed)

Most issues with registering and being a trusted helper mainly centred around the actual systems and processes. For example, the extensive Government Gateway registration can be tricky for some individuals and requires secure log in on every use.

People generally like the transparency of being registered with HMRC, both to the government department and the person they’re supporting.

Other people who help with HMRC dealings

There are other ways in which people can be directly supported in their dealings with HMRC: tax professional, intermediary and power of attorney. You must always tell HMRC about any such situation in the correct way.


You can ask someone to act as an intermediary for you. This can be a family member, friend or voluntary organisation. People most commonly do this if they’re temporarily ill, are still learning English or have a disability.

Intermediaries can help people complete forms and talk to HMRC on your behalf. They cannot access your online tax account – this is the main difference between an intermediary and a trusted helper.

To establish an intermediary you must write a letter to HMRC at:

National Insurance contributions and Employers Office
HM Revenue and Customs

Your letter must include the following information:

  • Your name, address and Unique Taxpayer Reference number
  • Name and address of individual or organisation you’re authorising to be your intermediary
  • Your signature (phone HMRC if you’re unable to sign)

Power of Attorney

You can give another person power to make decisions about your tax affairs by setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). You can set up this power of attorney in different ways, depending on your situation. They might be authorised to help you make tax decisions, or take decisions on your behalf.

People usually only use power of attorney if they’re seriously ill or injured and haven’t the capacity to make choices themselves.

You need to send HMRC either an original or certified copy of the physical power of attorney document. There are different addresses, depending on your needs, you can find them here.

Tax Agent

You can authorise a paid agent to sort out your tax situation on your behalf. This must be a tax adviser or professional accountant that meets HMRC’s standards.

There is an authorisation process to complete before your agent can deal with HMRC for you. They will help you do this.

In particular situations, it might be appropriate to appoint other professionals to act on your behalf and involve communications with HMRC. For example, consulting a solicitor or legal adviser during property transactions.

Finding the right tax support for you

As you can see, there are various different levels of support available when it comes to HMRC. You need to choose what’s best for your situation and be clear about how you tell HMRC that someone is acting on your behalf. Equally, if you’re becoming a ‘trusted helper’ you need clarity about the process and boundaries you’re agreeing to.

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