Some interesting feedback on HMRC’s performance

HMRC’s annual report published on 14 July includes a good deal of information that has already been reported, discussed and debated. I’ve noted some of the key points below.

The annual report on Your Charter, published at the same time, sets out some findings from a customer survey designed to measure performance against the various elements of the charter.

We are told to expect a full report later in the summer. In the meantime, feedback from individuals, small businesses and tax agents suggests that tax agents, who have “more regular” dealings with HMRC, are “generally the least positive”.

HMRC undertakes to provide a helpful, efficient and effective service. The survey suggested that 63% of small businesses, but only 26% of tax agents, agreed that the time taken by HMRC was “acceptable”.

Two-thirds of businesses agreed that the quality of information provided by HMRC is good, and 83% agreed that HMRC treats customers as honest. The corresponding figures for tax agents were 51% and 62%.

Turning to HMRC’s annual report and accounts, here are some of the key findings set out in the executive summary:

  1. HMRC’s key objectives, revised at the start of 2016/17, are to “maximise revenues due and bear down on avoidance and evasion, transform tax and payments for our customers, and design and deliver a professional, efficient and engaged organisation”.
  2. HMRC expects to spend £1.8bn on its “transformation” programme over the next four years. There will be a “more flexible, highly-skilled workforce” in fewer locations – 13 large, modern offices. Making Tax Digital is a key element of this programme and we still await a series of consultations.
  3. There were around 58,600 full-time equivalent employees in 167 offices across the UK at 31 March 2016.
  4. HMRC collected record total tax revenues for the sixth consecutive year. Total tax revenues were £536.8bn. Capital gains tax increased by 28% to £1.6bn. HMRC exceeded “sustainable cost savings targets” set by ministers.
  5. Calculation of the “future revenue benefit” element of estimated compliance revenue has been changed on the National Audit Office’s advice – it will now be reported in the year in which it has an impact on tax receipts.
  6. The “average speed” of answering calls was “too lengthy” at the start of 2015/16, but it is now “around six minutes and on an improving trend”. Post handling improved so that HMRC was handing 70% of post within 15 days by the end of the year.
  7. Performance in tax credits and child benefit exceeded targets and there were “some excellent results” in dealing with tax credits renewals.
  8. The Needs Extra Support service handled more than 100,000 enquiries, providing face-to-face visits and telephone support.

The full report is almost 300 pages long …