TaxPersonal TaxRevenue gets the right idea

Revenue gets the right idea

With taxpayers and tax advisers alike lining up to criticise everything from IR35 to online self-assessment, the Inland Revenue doesn't get too much positive coverage these days.

But credit where credit’s due: news that it is considering an unprecedented programme of restructuring – revealed by Accountancy Age this week – is as welcome as it is bold.

For now, the details of the project are necessarily hazy. But so far it seems that its existing network of 550 district offices could be cut to 60 with a greater focus on specialisation. It makes sense.

Tax advisers and businesses are already bypassing local offices for specialist information, a process that is stretching the centre.

Revenue chairman Nick Montagu came in as a reformist. This, after, all is the man who as a transport department mandarin helped privatise the railways.

He seems to be living up to his billing.

Government is in serious need of pruning. Last week the English ICA revealed the cost to small businesses of complying with new legislation has more than doubled since last year. Meanwhile incremental reform to the tax system has succeeded only in complicating matters.

Customs is currently in the throes of a similar reorganisation. Conspiracy theorists might see the Revenue’s move as a sign that the two bodies will one day merge. That may or may not be the case. For now let’s welcome a step in the right direction in the battle against red tape.

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