HMRC Jab Back At The Lords Criticism

 In Bullying, HMRC, HMRC Powers

In December last year the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee criticised HMRC, in a nutshell they said that the organisation had too much power and was not taking enough responsibility. Now HMRC have answered that criticism, they say they do not recognise systemic problems in the way they handle investigations nor do they see behavioural problems from their investigators.

Here are some key pars from House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee that criticised HMRC five months ago:

‘The evidence suggests that, in compliance and enquiry cases, the behaviour of some HMRC staff falls well below the standard set in the charter. HMRC needs to have better systems in place to identify and address any problem behaviours as a matter of urgency.

‘HMRC has recently been given greater powers. It is being asked by ministers to collect more tax with fewer staff. These cultural drivers may have pressured staff to take a more aggressive approach to tax collection, and in doing so impaired the ability to be fair to taxpayers and act in accordance with charter values.’

This is fighting talk. The Charter is a list of rules that HMRC has to abide by and this report is saying it’s not doing that.

HMRC’s replied on the 22 January 2019. Here’s a key paragraph:

‘Using… feedback mechanisms, we do not recognise systemic problems, or aggressive, behaviours across our compliance case work. However, HMRC accepts that in some cases, compliance checks may not be worked to the professional standards that we expect. We will further review our assurance findings to establish the extent of any problem relating to the concerns raised in the House of Lords report.’

Simon Oaks, a former head of the Adjudicator’s Office, describes this as, “A disappointingly defensive response”.

You can see the full report from the Lords here:

You can see the full reply from HMRC here:

Learn more about HMRC’s Charter here:

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