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This week's opinion: 6 May 2021

04 May 2021 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4790 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Digital transformation must be for everyone

If anyone was in doubt about the seriousness of HMRC’s digital agenda, they have only to read the minister’s recent speech at the HMRC stakeholder conference ( 

As I listened to Jesse Norman I was struck by a real change of tone. A few years ago I would have expected emphasis on the tax gap and clamping down on avoidance but, this time, almost everything was about the way HMRC had learned from the pandemic and how much that experience had spurred the organisation into thinking about its future interaction with the public. Almost everybody who participated – including people who tend to be critical of HMRC – acknowledged its achievements in delivering support in a timeframe which few thought could be achieved. HMRC has visibly grown in confidence as an organisation through the pandemic and its ambition is clear to see. 

What matters is how this vision is turned into a reality. There is still huge concern that the digital transformation will leave behind many individuals and small businesses. While HMRC acknowledges this, it is easy to see that it could get forgotten in the ‘excitement’ of a major transformation programme. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that this does not happen. As the minister said: ‘We tax with people’s consent. Public trust is a basic aspect of all taxation and if we’re going to make the kinds of changes that I’ve described, we need to ensure that the public’s faith in the tax system remains undiminished. Trust is hard to build up but easy to destroy. I remain optimistic but, as Thomas Jefferson nearly said, the price of digital transformation is eternal vigilance.’ 

If you do one thing...

Read HMRC’s new guidance on the extended loss carry back provisions announced in the Budget (
Issue: 4790 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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