Exclusive: Revenue may shut 500 offices

Revenue officials confirmed this week that consultation on the reform of the regional offices is under way but Accountancy Age has learned that the changes could see the 550 district offices reduced to 60. It is understood the moves would involve no redundancies.

The move would allow the Revenue to concentrate specialists is district offices in a way impossible at the moment. It is believed the result would lead to better access to experts for accountants and tax advisers seeking guidance.

Such a restructuring would be the largest change at the Revenue in years and would be the latest in a series of major projects overseen by Nick Montagu, chairman of the Revenue board, whose arrival in 1998 was heralded as the beginning of a reform period.

One expert said: ‘Conceptually this seems very well thought out. It is a good model and would certainly benefit accountants.’

Another close observer of the Revenue said: ‘It’s radical and very interesting. The Revenue is standing back and taking a very close look at the way it operates. It seems to be taking a very sensible stance.’

Last year Customs & Excise announced it was to reduce its 43 advice centres to just six and introduce a controversial telephone helpline. Customs was also looking at developing internet services.

It is understood the Revenue is also examining the possibility of a helpline and will look at expanding the current online services it offers to provide increased facilities for business.

Nick Montagu has developed a reputation for handling big reforming projects.

He has overseen the integration of the Contributions Agency into the Revenue, the launch of self-assessment online and the administration of Working Families Tax Credit.

In addition to that he handled the privatisation of the railways while at the Department of Transport.

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