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Taxman simplifies 200 standard letters

29 January 2010
Issue: 4241 / Categories: News , Admin
See an example of before and after

HMRC have rewritten more than 200 standard letters in an effort to make tax matters easier for taxpayers to comprehend.

The correspondences have had their language simplified and cleaned up. The sentence ‘I must now advise you that I am considering formal recovery action’, for example, has been changed to ‘We will now take action to recover the money’.

Timescales offered within the letters have also been made clearer – specific dates have replaced ambiguous phrases such as ‘within 30 days’ – and further explanations have been added to help taxpayers better understand Revenue processes and the reasons behind them.

An example of a letter before and after a rewrite can be seen here.

The rewrite process began a year ago, and early results were welcomed last summer by focus group of representatives from small and medium firms, who praised the clarity and tone of the new correspondences.

The Administrative Burdens Advisory Board, which advises on reducing the regulatory burden that HMRC places on businesses, has said the letters are easier to understand and have a more personal feel.

The Revenue plans to look at how it can best ensure that its non-standard letters use the same language, tone and structure.

‘We know that receiving letters from the taxman can sometimes be an intimidating experience for taxpayers,’ said Brian Redford of HMRC’s Business Customer Unit.

‘Our customers told us that the letters we wrote when we checked tax returns were unclear or contained jargon. We are committed to improving customers’ experience of the UK tax system and reducing the costs involved in dealing with us.’

Issue Extract
Issue: 4241 / Categories: News , Admin
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