The meeting had been requested by a number of professional bodies/charities (one could, for want of a better word, call them "stakeholders") including:
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales,
- the Chartered Institute of Taxation,
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland,
- the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants,
- the Association of Accounting Technicians,
- the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group,
- Tax Aid
- TaxHelp for Older People.
Why was the meeting called?
The stakeholders wanted to follow through on the recommendation of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee’s that HMRC should work closely with the professional bodies, tax charities and businesses to improve the end‐to‐end experience of dealing with HMRC.
In addition to Clasper, HMRC sent along some senior managers.
Despite the fact that HMRC are happy that statistics show that in recent months there has been a significant improvement in overall post handling times..really???..HMRC recognise that this improvement is not consistently reflected in the actual experience of taxpayers and agents.
In other words, from the perspective of the stakeholders the statistics are wrong or are (shall we say) measuring the wrong variables.
Anyhoo, on the 14th of September HMRC issued a joint statement which outlines the agreement made as a result of the meeting.
The whole area of post handling and processing will now be looked at in depth, to understand how far the recent improvements are reflected in the actual experience of taxpayers and agents. Additionally, the reasons for the experience and perception of HMRC’s customers being different from that of HMRC managers will also be examined.
"It was agreed that as a first stage, work should be taken forward quickly and on three fronts:
- Post processing and handling should be looked at in detail to establish where problems still exist and how they can be resolved (and HMRC’s performance measures reviewed where necessary to ensure that they are credible and effective). This work will be complemented by a review of the following processes where it is believed improvements can be made: non Self Assessment repayment claims, automated PAYE coding notices and practical issues relating to deceased estates.
- A number of agents and charity representatives will spend time with HMRC’s front line service delivery teams to look at processes in detail from a customer perspective and make recommendations as appropriate.
- HMRC will carry out structured visits to the offices of a number of practitioners and charities to gain an in depth understanding of service delivery as seen from a customer perspective.
Mike Clasper said:
'Tax agents along with the charity and voluntary sector are vitally important customer and stakeholder groups for HMRC and I welcome their offer to work with us so we can better understand how to improve. We know that they and their clients are seriously impacted when we get things wrong and we are determined to deliver a better service.
We need to get a better understanding of the interaction of our customers and stakeholders with HMRC and of their experiences in resolving tax issues. Working with agent colleagues inside and outside HMRC will provide that knowledge and lead to better services for all of our customers.'
The professional bodies and tax charities said:
'We and HMRC are working very closely together to try to resolve a number of service delivery issues. This exercise is emphatically not a ‘talking shop’ and where appropriate we intend to make public the results and the action to be taken from the work streams we have embarked on.'"
The publication of the joint statement gave rise to an optimistic statement from Michael Izza (CEO of the ICAEW) on his blog:
"HMRC has made similar promises in the past to tackle service issues yet have failed to deliver.
I believe this time will be different.
Thanks in no small part to the role played by our Tax Faculty and in particular, Paul Aplin, chair of its technical committee, we now have a partnership with HMRC and a very public commitment from the very top to a way forward which will help turn things around."
I do not wish to discredit Michael's viewpoint and optimism.
However, having run this site for many years I have a feeling of deja vu wrt the promises being made and a feeling that we are now in the endgame wrt the current structure/leadership of HMRC.
Reading between the lines of the statement (re the comments about perceptions) I get the feeling that HMRC do not want to believe that there is a service issue, and that this will be used to try to discredit "stakeholder" perceptions of poor service.
Additionally, from my cynical ("tired old eyes") perspective, even if the promises are genuine given the state of HMRC I don't see that they will/can be fulfilled.
Given that I am so cynical, and therefore partisan in my viewpoint, I would really value hearing the viewpoints of my loyal readers (especially those who work within HMRC) as to the likelihood of this actually delivering what it promises to deliver.
BTW, whatever happened to the Charter?
Tax does have to be taxing.
UK EXPATS: Reduce tax on UK Pensions
HMRC QROPS provider. Unlock your UK pension and access a 25% lump sum today.
Quote ID code "ABC" when contacting a QROPS specialist.
Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations
What is TAXWISE?
TAXWISE is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.
To find out more, please use this link Taxwise
Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.
Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies
HMRC Is Shite (www.hmrcisshite.com), also available via the domain www.hmrconline.com, is brought to you by www.kenfrost.com "The Living Brand"