HMRC annual stakeholder conference

Highlights from the conference on Monday 5 September

HMRC is the only government department which holds a stakeholder conference with organisations such as ICAEW which have a professional interest in what it is doing and how it is performing. The main purpose, and backdrop, to the conference was the publication of the HMRC Annual Report and Accounts 2015-16 in July 2016 when the initial stakeholder conference was planned to take place.

The original timing of the 2016 event was 14 July but it was postponed because of the need for senior HMRC officials to be on hand to brief the newly appointed government ministers. As a result the conference was put back to 5 September.

The keynote address was given by Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who took over from David Gauke. Her address can be read in extenso by clicking here. The title given to her speech is “a tax service for the 21st century”. She repeated government promises to deliver a tax system which is “fairer, efficient and competitive”. 

Making tax digital

The Minister said: 

“it is our plan to establish one of the best digital tax services in the world offering businesses and individuals alike the kind of digital services they expect in the 21st century.” 

As readers will be aware HMRC has just published a set of consultation documents on digital tax services and you are encouraged to read our postings on the content of those discussions. You can access all the various postings we have made via our main posting Making tax digital: HMRC issues six consultation documents. Please do read these and engage with the Tax Faculty in the events that we are putting on so that you make us aware of your views, and concerns, which we can then take into account in our response to the government proposals. 

Advance payment notices

The Minister said: 

“I’m also delighted to announce today that we have collected £3 billion since 2014 from people using avoidance schemes, as HMRC put its new powers to use by issuing ‘accelerated payment notices’ to good effect.” 

This announcement was backed up by a Press Release Taxman brings in billions of tax upfront from tax avoiders

Edward Troup and Jon Thompson

The two other “speeches” were from Edward and Jon who are the new(ish) Executive Chair and Chief Executive, respectively, at HMRC. Their speeches have not been uploaded to the government website.

Edward went through the strategy of the department and indicated that HMRC would announce later in the month their intentions as to the new Tax Assurance arrangements where Edward has, for the time being, remained the Commissioner. You can read our report at How HMRC resolves tax disputes. Edward also mentioned the Your Charter Annual Report and the fact that Ian Young, from the Tax Faculty, was in the audience and had been involved as a member of the 2016 Charter Committee. 

Jon Thompson, as HMRC Chief Executive, is responsible for the running of the department. He said that he had been given 60 targets by Ministers and these would be published later in the month. He noted the improved service levels of HMRC call centres after very poor performance in 2015. He said that the first of the 13 regional centres would be opened in Croydon, south London. 

Detailed presentations – Tax Talks

Attendees at the conference then had the choice of attending two out of a total of four presentations in two 35 minute slots. The four presentations covered: 

Tax free childcare

Harnessing the power of data

Making tax digital consultations

Improving the individual customer experience