The Inland Revenue faced accusations of failing taxpayers this week, after it lowered performance standards for tax offices that missed their targets for calculating tax correctly this year – to make them easier to achieve over the next 12 months.
Five regional tax offices failed to meet their 1997/1998 targets for calculating tax correctly for schedule E taxpayers. While the six tax offices that did achieve their 1997/1998 targets had their targets raised or held, IR East, IR North-West, IR North, and IR Scotland will have lower targets next year. The target for IR South Yorkshire, the fifth office to fall short last year, was retained.
A national target of 87% was kept, despite this year’s figure of manually handled, correctly processed cases being 86%.
John Whiting, Price Waterhouse’s head of personal taxation, said the lowering of targets in many cases was from an already low base – they will vary between 85% and 90% across the country next year – and was a worrying sign. ‘It’s not very ambitious,’ he said. ‘It means at least one in ten ordinary people will have their tax calculated incorrectly.’
The best performer was IR South-East, which calculated tax correctly ‘in every respect’ for schedule E taxpayers in 90% of cases.
A spokesman for the Inland Revenue said the national target for calculating tax correctly had been maintained despite changes at local levels. ‘We’re not complacent,’ he said.
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