Advisers hope for stability as Gray named HMRC chairman

Paul Gray was formally appointed as the new chairman of
HM Revenue & Customs this week, ending
speculation over the long delay in replacing Sir David Varney as the head of the
UK tax authority.

Gray takes on the position after a six-month spell as acting
HMRC chairman, a role he
stepped into following the surprise resignation of Sir David.

The move was broadly welcomed by the industry and politicians. Gray has a
reputation as a likeable and open figure and views HMRC as the UK’s largest
financial services business rather than an aggressive arm of government.

The new chairman takes on the role as the HMRC faces criticism over a
perceived increase in aggression towards taxpayers, and confusion in the newly
merged department over accountabilities.

John Whiting of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said HMRC needed a period of
consolidation and that Gray’s appointment would facilitate this process.

‘The Revenue needs a period of consistency and stability and Paul Gray
represents that consistency,’ Whiting said.

There had been speculation that another private sector figure could be chosen
for the role, after the departure of Sir David blew a hole in government plans
to push more private sector figures into Whitehall.

Treasury select committee member Jim Cousins MP said Gray’s appointment to
the chairmanship had been long overdue.

‘The interregnum since the last chairman resigned has gone on far too long
during a crucial period for HMRC,’ Cousins said.

Richard Mannion, national tax director at Smith & Williamson, said: ‘Gray
is a common sense person. He immediately understands problems that are raised
and is always in problem-solving mode. If another captain of industry had been
parachuted in and decided to make widespread changes it would have brought HMRC
to its knees.’

The new HMRC boss has significant experience in the civil service. He joined
the Treasury as an economist in 1969 and has also worked in the Department of
Social Security and the Department of Work & Pensions.

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