The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) recently released the results of its member survey on HMRC's performance.
In reality, the survey revealed nothing that is not common knowledge at this stage if you've been following us but it is useful anyway to summarise briefly the findings of ICAS (the quotes are from Derek Allen - Director of Tax at ICAS):
- On communication with HMRC:
“Facilities for contacting HMRC have deteriorated drastically in the past year. Phone calls to HMRC help lines go unanswered. Letters sent to HMRC lie unopened for weeks – sometimes months."
- On the quality of staffing:
"Many HMRC staff seem ill-equipped to perform their allotted roles, and technical tax questions are commonly passed from pillar to post. Urgent action is needed to simplify the tax regime and give more help to those trying to comply with their fiscal obligations.”
- On the UK tax system (now the longest in the world and which more doubled from 5,000 pages to 11,500 under Labour)
“The problems raised by our member survey cover a wide range of issues and demonstrate that the over-complicated tax system we have is no longer fit for purpose. We hope our survey report can be used by HMRC to supplement the NAO report, helping identify weaknesses in HMRC’s processes for administering the tax system and encouraging them to remedy these."
At this stage there is very little left to be said about either HMRC or the tax legislation but if the Government wishes to reconsider why the tax gap is standing at between £40 - £100 billion (depending on who you believe) then they could do worse than ask themselves whether nearly 12,000 pages of tax code is helping or hindering.