SA handling under NAO microscope

The English ICA, ACCA, and the Adjudicator’s Office are queuing up tor of self-assessment. help a National Audit Office investigation into the Inland Revenue’s handling of self-assessment, which was announced this week.

The NAO responded to a request from Public Accounts Committee chairman David Davis to report on evidence it has collected documenting inaccurate assessment calculations, administrative oversights and problems in handing taxpayers’ correspondence – first revealed in Accountancy Age last year.

The PAC’s interest was sparked by a series of parliamentary questions from Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Malcolm Bruce, who asked Davis to investigate reports from Revenue ‘whistleblowers’ that staff had made up figures and discarded letters of complaint.

If the investigation proceeds to a second stage and beyond, senior Revenue officers could find themselves summoned before the PAC in the autumn.

Professional accountancy bodies and the Adjudicator’s Office have received many complaints from taxpayers’ agents. An NAO spokesman confirmed the investigators would consider seeking information from professional bodies. ‘Where we think it’s appropriate, we will take advice,’ he said.

ACCA and institute officials reported thousands of complaints which upset relations between accountants and their clients, and between agents and the Revenue. Peter Bickley, of the institute’s tax faculty, said it would be delighted to help. ‘If the results of such an investigation meant the Revenue would be better resourced to get it right, that’s great,’ he said.

Mike Savage, head of office at the Adjudicator’s Office, said: ‘We’re concerned there are indications that a number of people are affected by workload problems. There are offices which we acknowledge to be having difficulties and backlogs.’

The Adjudicator’s Office welcomed the NAO investigation, said Savage.

‘It’s constructive for people to look at what the Revenue can do to ensure it’s giving a fair and consistent service to taxpayers.’

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