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This week's opinion: 1 August 2019

30 July 2019
Issue: 4706 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Departing chief of HMRC spoke with authority

The decision of Sir Jonathan Thompson to step down as the chief executive of HMRC should not pass unremarked in these pages. The person in charge of HMRC is never going to win a popularity contest and Sir Jon has received a substantial amount of criticism, some of it fair, some of it not.

However, he deserves commendation for two things in particular. The first is for scaling back some of HMRC’s over-ambitious projects when it became clear that the department was overcommitted. The second was the way he handled challenges by the House of Commons’ public accounts committee. He gave a strong account of himself and the department, was open and honest, and painted a realistic picture of the problems faced and the plans to tackle them. Irrespective of whether you agreed with him, here was somebody who spoke with real authority.

Sir Jon received death threats during his time in office and was advised by the police to change his personal security arrangements and his route to work. That is an appalling thing for a public servant to have to endure. Whatever views people might have about his performance in office we can all hope that his successor does not suffer in the same way.

If you do one thing...

Most of us are familiar with the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes (DOTAS) regime but in my experience not everybody has yet woken up to the fact that, from 1 July 2020, a new set of disclosure obligations is to be introduced. These are for cross border transactions which might be used to avoid or evade tax. HMRC has published a consultation on the draft regulations ( I strongly recommend that you read this if your clients have any sort of non-UK activities, not least because some of the reporting requirements will be retrospective back to 25 June 2018.

Issue: 4706 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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