Mary Aiston, HMRC's director of specialist tax, which targets high-end taxpayers and complex cases, has written a memo that was leaked to the Guardian that 300 jobs from the unit will go by 2015. Additionally, those who remain will be asked to deliver more revenue with less resources.
In the memo, posted on HMRC's intranet under the section headed "Mary's Diary", Aiston says she hopes that half of these jobs will be lost through "natural wastage".
"Looking at our plans, over 2014-15 specialist PT [personal tax] will be about 250-300 people smaller. We will do this by considering each role when people leave specialist PT, whether we need to fill their role and, if so, whether we can move someone into it who is already in specialist PT.
We won't be able to make all the changes we need to in this way (what's often referred to as using 'natural wastage') but our plan at this stage is that roughly half of the reductions will be through natural wastage."
Meanwhile, the targets for the number of taxpayers' telephone calls answered and letters opened has been cut, she said, to 80% within 15 days.
"While these are lower than for 2013-14, if we can deliver them consistently during the year across the whole of PT, customers will experience a better service as there won't be the drops in service at peak times."Apparently she wrote that with a straight face!
HMRC is also expected to announce the closure of its Edinburgh office of the high net worth unit – with the 23 staff being split between "local compliance" and "trust and estates".
Tax does have to be taxing.
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