CIOT: Campaigners welcome HMRC promise of face-to-face visits for taxpayers who need help

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has given a cautious welcome to today’s announcement by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that a ‘new, flexible support service’ will be introduced for those who need it, based around a more specialised phone service and mobile face-to-face visits.

HMRC are launching a five-month pilot in the North East of England to test these new services. This will run from June 3rd until October 31st. The new service is intended to replace the Enquiry Centre network which will be closed.

LITRG’s Chairman, Anthony Thomas, commented:

“We welcome the aims of the North East pilot to provide a much better service to those who need more help than the telephone and internet channels currently provide. Unrepresented taxpayers and tax credit claimants on low incomes or those with particular needs should benefit from an improved service.

“It is crucial that HMRC work closely with the voluntary sector throughout the duration of the pilot and beyond in order to ensure that an excellent service is delivered to those who are in need of help. This new service envisages a very significant increase in the voluntary sector workload and without proper funding and resource taxpayers could be seriously disadvantaged.

“Of course I would have preferred a longer pilot to adequately assess the outcome against targets with evidence to support the direction of the pilot, but HMRC have extended it to cover the self assessment paper filing deadline of 31 October 2013 and agreed a full twelve month evaluation period. This is eminently sensible and should avoid potentially vulnerable taxpayers dropping through the net.

“HMRC will not be surprised that we shall be monitoring the new service very closely indeed to ensure the services are freely available and easily accessed by all who need help.”

Notes for editors

A consultation on the new service was launched today by HMRC and will run until 24 May, with the results to be published by the end of July.

The pilot will involve the closure of Enquiry Centres at Alnwick, Bishop Auckland, Bridlington, Hexham, Darlington, Durham, Middlesbrough, Morpeth, Newcastle, Scarborough, Stockton, Sunderland and York. If successful, HMRC have said they will implement this new service across the UK between February and May 2014 and close the remaining Enquiry Centres.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is an initiative of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) to give a voice to the unrepresented. Since 1998 LITRG has been working to improve the policy and processes of the tax, tax credits and associated welfare systems for the benefit of those on low incomes.

The CIOT is a charity and the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT’s primary purpose is to promote education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of the key aims is to achieve a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s 16,500 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’.

Sophia Bell
LITRG Administrator and Webmaster

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