Institutes to help HMRC improve performance standards

THE TAXMAN IS to work closely with the accountancy profession to improve its service standards in a “groundbreaking” joint venture announced today.

In a joint statement, HM Revenue & Customs has said it will develop performance standards with the major institutes on areas such as post processing and handling, non-self assessment repayment claims, automated PAYE coding notices and practical issues relating to deceased estates. As part of the initiative, advisors will spend time with HMRC service delivery teams to look at its processes, and HMRC officers will spend time in volunteer firms.

HMRC chairman Mike Clasper (pictured) and senior HMRC officials met representatives from ICAEW, CIoT, ICAS, ACCA, the ATT and the AAT on 7 September to discuss the initiative. Also in attendance were tax charities Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, Tax Aid and TaxHelp for Older People. The meeting was held as a response to the critical Commons’ Treasury select committee report on service standards. The MPs recommended that HMRC should work closely with the profession to improve standards.

The initiative will begin on 3 October and there will be a review on 30 November.

“The statistics show that in recent months there has been a significant improvement in overall post handling times, but HMRC recognised that this improvement is not consistently reflected in the actual experience of taxpayers and agents,” the statement said.

Clasper said: “We need to get a better understanding of the interaction of our customers and stakeholders with HMRC and of their experiences in resolving tax issues. Working with agent colleagues inside and outside HMRC will provide that knowledge and lead to better services for all of our customers.”

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at ACCA, said it was a “groundbreaking” initiative. “It is the first time this opportunity has been taken up,” he said. “This will be much more immediate than the agent strategy.”

Paul Aplin, partner at AC Mole & Son and a spokesman for the ICAEW, said: “I was at the meeting with HMRC and Mike Clasper’s personal commitment to getting his department to take real steps to see service delivery from the viewpoint of taxpayers and agents was very clear.

“The specific work streams agreed also concentrate on the big issues, such as post and repayments. I don’t underestimate the work involved but I’d say this is a very welcome development,” he added.

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