Taxman told to improve self-assessment training


At least 30% of self assessment tax returns contain errors, according to a
report published today by an influential House of Commons committee.

The public accounts committee report will say that the calculation errors
could be costing the state as much as £2.8bn in lost tax revenues.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the PAC, said: ‘Taxpayers are increasingly going to
the wire when it comes to filing their tax returns, despite HM Revenue &
Customs advertising campaigns.

The department then has to process a lot of returns in a short time, leading
to more official errors. Different filing dates for different groups of
taxpayers would spread the load.

‘Taxpayers themselves make errors in about a third of tax returns, costing an
enormous £2.8bn in lost tax. HMRC needs to provide clear information on how to
avoid the most common mistakes. It should improve the training of its call
centre staff and the access to specialist advice.’

About £16bn a year is collected from self-assessment, with forms going out to
an estimated 10 million people. HMRC reached its target of having 90.6% of forms
returned by the 31 January deadline, but will have to reach 93% by January 2008.

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