RESPONDING to HMRC consultation on improving the income tax service, Susan Love, head of ACCA Scotland said: ‘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.
‘Transparency and accountability come time and time again 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.
‘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.
‘ACCA’s members 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.
‘While ACCA recognises the improvement plans in place, it is 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.’