Consultation: Simplifying and modernising HMRC’s Income Tax services through the tax administration framework

Trust lies at the heart of a healthy relationship between a tax authority and the taxpayers and agents who interact with it. A lack of investment has, over time, damaged relationships between HMRC, compliant taxpayers, and the agents supporting them, with service standards at HMRC falling to an unacceptably low standard.

Since 2009 HMRC has positioned the Charter as a central element in building that trust. Stakeholders’ expectations have evolved over time as the legislative framework of powers and safeguards, and HMRC’s interpretation and implementation of those laws, has developed. The principles in that Charter will be vital in ensuring that the simplification and modernisation of the tax system not only improve the framework under which HMRC operates but ensures that the lives of taxpayers and those that represent them are made easier.

While HMRC plays a critical role in the administration of the tax system and funding for public services, customer service levels delivered by HMRC have fallen to an unacceptably low level.

Transparency and accountability come up in every forum as being the key to tax morale and good tax engagement. This applies across the board, and tax authorities should be every bit as transparent and accountable as taxpayers and the agents who support them when it comes to paying tax.

Stability is just as important as certainty and simplicity when it comes to the tax system. Too often changes are poorly planned, poorly communicated and poorly executed; with too many last-minute changes, this has impacted on taxpayer, agent and stakeholder confidence.

We are keen to see more detailed improvement plans for HMRC service standards as a matter of urgency. Closer partnership working with professional bodies, such as ACCA, could help highlight and prioritise areas for improvement including efficiencies that could be gained through improving access to certain information and functions for professionals.

We value the role we play in supporting the operation and development of the HMRC Charter. It is a useful tool to ensure continuous improvement, with independent scrutiny a key part of its success. However, notwithstanding this, current service standards at HMRC have fallen to an unacceptably low level. While we recognise the improvement plans in place, we are not confident about progress without additional measures:

  • Value of professionally regulated agents – government and HMRC should recognise the value of timesaving and trust offered by professionally regulated agents. HMRC should seek to enable professionally regulated agents to provide services which can provide time and resource savings for HMRC, for example, altering information such as tax codes.
  • Partnership – building on the work of the Charter Stakeholder Group, partnership and trust between HMRC and professional bodies should be built upon to quickly identify and address areas of concern, particularly where they waste time and resources for taxpayers, their agents and HMRC.

To read the response in full, please download the consultation response document on this page.