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This week's opinion: 28 March 2024

25 March 2024 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4930 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
HMRC’s failure to listen results in U-turn

I have always been very aware that our magazine is for the whole of the tax community and that it has a wide readership within HMRC. So, while we have always, and will continue to, published articles which criticise – often robustly – aspects of HMRC’s work I have always wanted to avoid the sort of ‘revenue bashing’ which one sees in some quarters, particularly online. I do think that most people in HMRC are trying to do a good job under difficult circumstances.

But the extraordinary events of last week certainly make life difficult for those of us who do want to take a balanced view of HMRC. The original announcement of the closure of the helplines was difficult enough but to be followed by a total reversal within 24 hours was quite astonishing. The news of the change of heart broke during our weekly editorial conference and my colleagues will tell you that for once in my life I was rendered almost speechless by what was happening.

The reason for the U-turn was, according to HMRC, ‘we’ve listened to the feedback and we recognise that more needs to be done to ensure all taxpayers’ needs are met, while also encouraging them to transition to online services’. Really? Given the very strong reactions to last year’s temporary closure of the SA helpline, the feedback to the announcement of the six months closure was exactly in line with what I would have expected.

It is in all of our interests that HMRC is a strong and effective organisation. It did very well at meeting the national needs during Covid-19 and it is a tragedy that things have deteriorated so disastrously since then. The government needs to decide what it wants from its tax authority and give it the funding and support it needs to carry it through.

If you do one thing...

See the revised guidance at ESM4130 on employment status for TV and radio presenters.

Issue: 4930 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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