Tax bodies tell HMRC its service must not suffer because of restructuring

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) have said a planned restructuring of HMRC must not adversely impact the service that it gives to the public.

HMRC has announced today a restructure that will see its 170 offices close and be replaced by 13 regional centres as part of a ten-year programme.

Chris Jones, CIOT President, said:

“Taxpayers and tax professionals alike will be anxious that a public body that is struggling to meet its public-facing service targets1 has announced that it is about to lose many staff and close its local offices. It is crucial that HMRC retains as many appropriately qualified and experienced staff as it can.

“It is vital that HMRC closely and continuously monitors what the impact of its restructure is on the quality of its service to the public, over the next ten years and acts promptly to rectify any failure to meet its targets and then adapt its plans.

“We simply cannot wait until ten years’ time to see whether the changes meet HMRC’s goal to transform its service to taxpayers – they must have an immediate effect that is felt by ordinary people.”

Paul Hill, Chair of the ATT’s Technical Steering Group, said:

“It is vital that any adverse impacts of the transition on HMRC’s customers and staff are minimised. If service standards suffer in the process, tax compliance could decrease significantly and that could erode or even wipe out the eventual savings which the restructuring is intended to deliver.

“HMRC is in an unenviable position. It has to cope with reduced resources, introduce fundamental changes in the way that we all deal with the department and consolidate its staff into 13 regional centres. None of that will be easy but we look forward to helping HMRC identify how to achieve and maintain a high quality service over the transitional period.

“It is essential that specific provisions are in place, such as ensuring that HMRC is able to stage face to face meetings with a taxpayer in a convenient location.”

Notes to editors

1. In Its report on HMRC ‘s performance in 2014/15, published earlier this week, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found that ‘HMRC is still failing to provide an acceptable service to customers and could not tell us when it would be able to do so’. PAC reports that HMRC answered 72.5 per cent of calls during 2014/15 (39 per cent were answered within five minutes) and only 50 per cent in the first six months of 2015 against an unambitious target of 80 per cent. PAC is concerned that ‘customer service levels are so bad that they are having an adverse impact on the collection of tax revenues’. PAC’s  ‘6th Report – HM Revenue and Customs performance in 2014-15’ can be viewed  here.

2. Vital that present failures at HMRC strengthen its determination to move to a more systemic approach to tax collection in the long-term, says tax body – read here.

3. The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)

The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. Through our Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), the CIOT has a particular focus on improving the tax system, including tax credits and benefits, for the unrepresented taxpayer.

The CIOT draws on our members’ experience in private practice, commerce and industry, government and academia to improve tax administration and propose and explain how tax policy objectives can most effectively be achieved. We also link to, and draw on, similar leading professional tax bodies in other countries. The CIOT’s comments and recommendations on tax issues are made in line with our charitable objectives: we are politically neutral in our work.

The CIOT’s 17,500 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification

The Association of Taxation Technicians

The Association is a charity and the leading professional body for those providing UK tax compliance services. Our primary charitable objective is to promote education and the study of tax administration and practice. One of our key aims is to provide an appropriate qualification for individuals who undertake tax compliance work. Drawing on our members' practical experience and knowledge, we contribute to consultations on the development of the UK tax system and seek to ensure that, for the general public, it is workable and as fair as possible.

Our members are qualified by examination and practical experience. They commit to the highest standards of professional conduct and ensure that their tax knowledge is constantly kept up to date. Members may be found in private practice, commerce and industry, government and academia.

The Association has over 7,700 members and Fellows together with over 5,600 students. Members and Fellows use the practising title of 'Taxation Technician' or ‘Taxation Technician (Fellow)’ and the designatory letters 'ATT' and 'ATT (Fellow)' respectively.