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This week's opinion

24 January 2017
Issue: 4584 / Categories: Comment & Analysis

One step forward, two steps back?

A couple of the respondents to this week’s Readers’ Forum have mentioned that problems in the online formatting of the HMRC manuals have led to a wrong interpretation of the Revenue’s view of particular legislation. This is part of a wider problem of how the move of HMRC material to GOV.UK has considerably reduced the accessibility and usefulness of the online material.

Some readers will recall when HMRC’s manuals were not in the public domain. When I was an inspector of taxes in the 1980s the Inspectors’ Manual was closely guarded and there were stern warnings about revealing its contents to ‘outsiders’. Some Special Commissioners’ decisions were not published which was unfair since it gave the Revenue an advantage over taxpayers in technical matters when there was already a decision. In my early years in the profession copies of some Special Commissioners’ decisions circulated under the table rather like samizdat literature in the...

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