Hartnett podcast heralds new era for adviser relations

Dave Hartnett, director general of
HM Revenue & Customs,
has never shied away from criticising tax advisers in the past, arguing that
they drive a wedge between taxpayer and taxman and engage in unacceptable

Hartnett, of course, secretly loves sparring with the industry. Next month,
though, he will change tack in the first of a series of HMRC podcasts. Hartnett
will admit that the taxman’s intervention strategy has alienated agents and that
the relationship between HMRC and advisers needs to improve.

‘Hartnett will say that we need to make a fresh start with advisers and that
HMRC will learn from the mistakes it has made in the past,’ an HMRC spokesman

It is a gesture that tax experts think is long overdue: ‘If Dave Hartnett is
going to come out and say this publicly, it is a serious step forward. This
message shows that HMRC has realised it has nothing to gain by hitting out at
advisers,’ said Grant Thornton’s Francesca Lagerberg.

The reconciliatory gesture from Hartnett is the latest in a series of moves
from the taxman to improve its relationship with advisers.

HMRC has recently pledged to revamp its litigation strategy and only pursue
cases that it feels it has a chance of winning. The taxman has also promised to
reduce the administrative burden of tax for business as part of the Varney

Lagerberg was hopeful about such moves: ‘It is win-win if we work together,
and I hope that these public messages are backed by the genuine intention to
take our issues on board,’ she said.

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