Friday, 10 June 2016


Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has lost public confidence.

Just like any other relationship in life, once the trust between two parties has been eroded it is very difficult to restore, making the association a difficult one to carry on with. This is what has happened with HMRC’s relationship with taxpayers over decades of time.

Amidst all the recent revelations and scathing criticism of HMRC, how can trust in HMRC be restored, particularly when a body such as the [PAC] Public Accounts Committee said it did not have enough information to be able to gauge what HMRC had done about fraud. This, despite the PAC having been presented with the [NAO] National Audit Office’s report on what HMRC had done to combat fraud!

It is fair to say, for those of us who are forced to deal with our tax authority, public confidence in HMRC is not the best and not just because of all the negative press the department has received. This is not just a matter of public perception but the reality is that HMRC is an increasingly faltering government body.

In the good old days, tax advisers and taxpayers alike were able to work closely with their local tax inspector but that was a time when the Inland Revenue, as it was then, was a decent government department that contained well trained staff who possessed a sound knowledge of tax. Today the ever increasing move to force taxpayers to deal with HMRC entirely electronically is ensuring that all personal contact vanishes.

With HMRC on course to reducing its staffing numbers and forging ahead with Making Tax Digital the restoration of public trust in the Revenue seems an unlikely prospect which is a dangerous scenario.

Trust is a two-way process and requires both parties to know that the other is reliable.

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