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New tax rights: agreeable or anodyne?

12 February 2009
Categories: News , Taxpayers charter , Admin
Proposed charter divides experts' opinion

HMRC’s mooted taxpayers’ charter has prompted extreme reactions from tax experts – both in favour and against the document, which was published in draft form last week.

The Chartered Institute for Taxation (CIOT) welcomed the launch of the second consultation on the matter, saying it was ‘particularly pleased to see the commitment to place in statute the basis of the charter’.

CIOT president Nick Goulding said the planned outline of rights and responsibilities of both the Revenue and the public ‘will help taxpayers who are struggling with the complexity of the system’.

He added: ‘We do not see this as the whole answer – a simpler system is also needed – but the charter can at least make it easier for the taxpayer to know what they need to do and what to expect from HMRC, as well as enshrining some key principles such as the right to appeal against assessments’.

George Bull, tax partner with chartered accountants Baker Tilly, said he was not impressed by the content of the proposed charter, claiming it was ‘anodyne’ and ‘more postcard than Magna Carter’.

He said: ‘The original taxpayers’ charter was generally regarded as a useful protection for taxpayers because it set out the standards of service and fairness of treatment that they could expect from the Revenue’.

Mr Bull continued: ‘The hopes of many have been dashed [by] a proposed new charter that can only be described as disappointingly vague and brief.

‘It… contains only anodyne generalisations about what HMRC and the taxpayer may expect, without offering any guidance as to standards of service, equality of treatment, or recourse in the event of maladministration.’

The comments from the CIOT and George Bull follow a complaint from law firm McGrigors, which claimed the charter as proposed would authority to HMRC ‘adopt a highly aggressive stance towards taxpayers who are engaged in entirely legitimate tax planning’.

Have your say on the Taxpayers Charter mini-site.

Categories: News , Taxpayers charter , Admin
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