Tax advisers welcome additional scrutiny of HMRC powers

(3 minutes to read)

CIOT President Glyn Fullelove: “Calls for outside scrutiny have come both from those who believe HMRC are too aggressive in their use of powers and from those who fear that they are not bearing down hard enough on some taxpayers.”

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed the announcement of a series of measures put in place to strengthen public trust in HMRC’s exercise of statutory powers.

These include:

  • A new professional standards committee, advised by independent experts, to advise HMRC on their use of statutory powers;
  • A post-implementation evaluation of the HMRC powers and safeguards introduced since 2012;
  • A comprehensive review of the findings identified in the 2019 Adjudicator’s report;
  • HMRC to publish more data and information about the exercise of their powers, including their debt management, registrations and repayment services;
  • HMRC to report on the effectiveness of the work of their extra support service;
  • HMRC to review taxpayers’ experiences during compliance enquiries.

CIOT President Glyn Fullelove, commented, “This is a welcome set of announcements from the Financial Secretary, that shows the government are listening to parliamentarians, the tax profession and others. We are optimistic it will lead to stronger safeguards against misuse of HMRC powers and strengthen public trust in the tax authority.

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“HMRC’s powers permit them to carry out a broad range of actions and activities, such as undertaking compliance checks, obtaining and providing information and documents, making decisions, raising assessments and applying interest and penalties. This is as it needs to be, but it is also essential that these powers are exercised responsibly, with effective oversight and with adequate safeguards.

“Many have argued the case for greater scrutiny of HMRC. The House of Lords committee asked the government ‘to consider the establishment of an independent body to scrutinise the operations of HMRC.’ The proposed professional standards committee is by its nature a compromise – a consultative rather than supervisory body, not independent of HMRC but advised by independent experts. It will no doubt disappoint some but we prefer to see it as a positive step which has the potential to play a useful role in maintaining public confidence in HMRC’s use of their extensive powers.”

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