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Charter is very necessary, insists LITRG

17 September 2008
Categories: News , LITRG , Taxpayers charter , Admin
Basis must be in law, says institute

A new taxpayers' charter is 'very necessary' and should have its basis in law, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has said.

In its response to the Government consultation A New Charter for HMRC and its Customers, the LITRG has called for a system that mainly focuses on the rights of taxpayers.

'As satisfaction levels with HMRC service are, at best, variable, we think a charter is a very necessary safeguard for those who interact with [the taxman], particularly in the light of the extensive and ongoing changes to HMRC's powers,' said the organisation, which previously welcomed the consultation as a positive move towards consolidation of the Revenue 'as a single, "customer-focussed" department'.

The LITRG — which has arranged a number of meetings between HMRC's charter team and various disadvantaged groups of society — makes the following key points in its response:

  • Enforcement. The charter should have its basis in law, to provide a meaningful additional safeguard - but it should not be viewed as a substitute for specific appeal rights. Nor should there be any attempt to have the full charter in statute, which would make it difficult to use or adapt.
  • Rights and responsibilities. The main focus should be on taxpayer/claimant rights (and HMRC's responsibility to help the unrepresented secure those rights), but it could also help the Revenue by summarising taxpayer/claimant responsibilities.
  • Inclusion. A charter presents an ideal opportunity to embed HMRC's equality responsibilities across the department.
  • Customer service. The charter could restore focus to service quality, which has slipped since HMRC was created.
  • Communication. Many people find it a daunting experience to deal with HMRC. The charter could help to make the taxman more approachable. 
  • Scope. Rather than being limited to HMRC, the charter could cover all dealings with all tax authorities, such as the Adjudicator and the Ombudsman.

The institute's remarks follow those of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, which last week insisted that the proposed taxpayers' charter should have a statutory grounding.

A digest of taxpayers' charter articles from both Taxation and is now available on this site. A dedicated website will be launched soon, powered by both business titles.

Categories: News , LITRG , Taxpayers charter , Admin
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