HMRC must do more to restore public trust, critics say

HM Revenue & Customs should face up to public concerns about its effectiveness and consider whether calling taxpayers “customers” might undermine voluntary compliance, according to tax commentators addressing a meeting of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Responsible Tax.

While HMRC was not represented at the November 16 APPG meeting at the House of Commons, attendees were told that HMRC Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary Jon Thompson agreed to meet members of the APPG privately. “We are trying to get all sides [to] the argument, and that’s the best we could do,” said Margaret Hodge, APPG chair and Labour member of Parliament.

“We collect the money that pays for the UK’s public services . . . by being impartial and increasingly effective and efficient in our administration,” HMRC said in a department plan update on November 10. But when the APPG launched its September 2016 consultation on public confidence in HMRC’s “capability to collect tax fairly and effectively,” it noted that the department had been under sustained scrutiny about difficulties faced by taxpayers interacting with its services.

Read more: My news story for Tax Analysts, 18 November (paywall).