HMRC publishes departmental plan

On 14 December HMRC published its latest departmental plan. 

The plan sets out HMRC’s objectives and how it will achieve them. The plan begins by stating that HMRC aspires to be a world-class organisation underpinned by its four values: being professional, acting with integrity, showing respect and being innovative. 

The three main objectives set out in the plan are:


1. Maximise revenues and bear down on avoidance and evasion

In the year 2016/17, tax revenues rose by £38.1bn to £574.9, an increase of 7% over the previous year as compared to about a 3% rise in inflation. 

The plan is to deliver compliance revenues of £28bn in 2017/18, although this appears to be nearly £1bn lower than the previous year. 

ICAEW has a general concern that this objective should be to collect the right amount of tax due under the law rather than to “maximise revenues”. As anyone involved in tax knows, words matter and maximising revenue is not the same as collecting the right amount of tax.


2. Transform tax and payments

The plan confirms the continued investment of £1.3bn to make HMRC one of the most digitally advanced administrations in the world. 

HMRC will continue to roll out and develop digital tax accounts, enabling taxpayers (and their authorised agents) to see all their tax affairs in one place, and be able to check at any time that their details are complete and correct. We welcome the confirmation that authorised agents should be able to see all that their clients see, as, in the past, the roll-out of digital services for agents has lagged behind those provided to taxpayers. 

HMRC will be supporting the government’s plans for a smooth and orderly Brexit and making any changes needed to the tax and customs system to achieve that. 

As for HMRC’s performance statistics for 2016/17, they showed a steadily improving picture during the year, although the statistics for the first two quarters of 2017/18 give us some concern that standards have slipped back to where they were at the start of 2016/17; for example the target for telephone waiting time has slipped back to five minutes having been under four minutes in the three months ended 31 March 2017.


3. Design and deliver a professional, efficient and engaged organisation

In terms of HMRC’s staff, it will “continue to make consistent positive progress towards achieving the Civil Service Employee Engagement Index benchmark”. Quite what that is and how HMRC fares as compared to other departments is not readily apparent. 

The plan to move to 13 regional offices continues, not without some controversy both as regards the plan itself and the nature and length of the leases on the new premises. 

More generally, there is a clear worry that HMRC may not have the resources to deliver all of the projects it has on hand to the timescales that have been set. At the recent hearings before the Treasury Committee and Public Accounts Committee, HMRC’s CEO Jon Thompson stressed that HMRC will struggle to deliver Brexit on top of its ambitious change programme and the rollout of digital services. As Brexit preparations move up a gear, it is important to ensure that HMRC either has the resources needed to deliver on the plans or, if not, that there is a realistic reappraisal of the projects on hand and their deliverability.

  • That is just not true in 2017.

    in my case I complained in 2015. The HMRC failed to acknowledge my complaint and respond.

    I could not complain to the Adjudicators Office, because the AO stated I needed to have exhausted the Stage 1 and Stage 2 Complaints process. But with no response from the HMRC to my complaint, I was denied the opportunity of assistance from the AO.

    On 13 Noveember 2016 I made a complaint to the Assistant Director of Internal Governamce that I wanted a Stage One complaints response to my complaint a year earlier. Ironically, I received a reply on 11 December 2016 stating my complaint was received on 6 December 2016 and was given a reference by the HMRC Complaints Department 11/16 0000031. I assume that was the 31st complaint of November 2016 received by the HMRC. There was no phone number provided. I wrote to the Assisrant Director on 11 December 2016

    " Please can you provide me with the contact details and telephone number of your Complaints Team, as despite writing to complain for over a year, I have never had a response so I do not know how to contact them.

    As Assistant Director at the HMRC, any information you can provide to stop my complaints being frustrated and to allow this matter to progress in a swift and timely manner will be of great assistant. I note that my complaint of the 21st November 2016, which you received on 6th December has been recorded under the reference number: 2016/11 000031. I am assuming that denotes that this was the 31st complaint recorded by the HMRC Complaints Department in November 2016. I have to say that is a very small number of complaints for such a large organisation. However, I have made numerous complaints for over a year, do you have the reference numbers of those complaints. According to the adjudicators Office, they could not locate any complaints recorded by the HMRC for me, hence they could not assist me as "I had not completed Stage One Complaints stage. Therefore, am I right to assume a Complaint was only recorded for the first time the day after my convictions brought by the HMRC were quashed by the Court of Appeal."

    My request was ignored. However, eventually I spoke to someone in the Internal Governance Dept. and I managed to get a number for the HMRC Complaints Departments. I called 0300 054 7657 and got a shocked woman who was hoovering and picked up the phone by saying "Hello who is this" and was surprised I called her number as she worked from home and her number was not for customers to phone. When I gave her my reference number, she said there were only 2 people that deal with complaints and she would get round to dealing with it when she can! On 17 February 2017, The HMRC Head of Internal Governance wrote how he reviewed correspondence from The Assistant Director of Internal Governance in a letter of the 11 January 2017 and he should of apologised that my letter of complaint to the HMRC Chief Executive dated 3rd November 2015 was not acknowledged or responded to by the HMRC. That was it. There was no redress for the fact my rights of a complaints procedure was denied.

    To date my complaint has still not been addressed to a satisfactory manner by the HMRC. However one of the issues of my complaint regarding erroneous falsification of income evidence presented at Courts by the HMRC was accepted as a failing due to training and procedural errors by the HMRC and that because of my complaint the HMRC have acknowledged evidence presented in Court cases was not routinely checked and that due to "Organisational Learning" in future evidence presented at Court by HMRC financial investigators should be checked. The IPCC recommended on 13 November 2017 that "the HMRC may wish to consider introducing some specific training to the creation of an estimated income document to present at Court. I am confident that some further tailored training combined with an internal quality review process will significantly strengthen the work produced by HMRC officers to be used in evidence at Court an will reduce the risk of potential errors in this area."

    Well that is all well and good IPCC, Bravo to the HMRC realising that this Organisational Learning is required 2 years after your Chief Executive was made aware of the problem! However, if members of the public make hundreds of thousands and millions of pounds of errors they are penalised..... However, all those that were victims of HMRC mistakes can go to hell and stay there, or shut up and put up!

    I do not know what the HMRC, The IPCC and the Government intend to do to rectify the errors of HMRC officers in it's prosecutions and dubious fraud allegations.

    I do not understand how the HMRC is not concerned with how public confidence would be undermined in it's integrity and prosecutions, especially people who do not have "Panama Papers" incomes.

    I have a large dossier of damming evidence by the HMRC, I have asked the IPCC that their findings are passed to MP's, The relevant Parliamentary Select Committee and The Adjudicators Office..... I await their responses. I hope they take the plight of the ordinary people and victims of the HMRC more seriously than the HMRC executives clearly do.