The National Audit Office have published the report ‘Engaging with Tax Agents’ and the preliminary response has been a positive one.  However, there are some concerns that the paper, which details the partnership between tax agents and HMRC in overhauling tax systems, has missed an ideal opportunity.

Responding to the report, Chartered Institute of Taxation’s Deputy President, Anthony Thomas, commented: “This is a helpful report which sets out ways in which HMRC can work with the tax agent community to improve its systems and services, making the tax system run more smoothly for HMRC, taxpayers and their agents.  In particular we welcome the NAO’s recommendation that HMRC reduce its costs by enabling agents to do more on-line self-service, thus reducing delays in dealing with post.”

Mr Thomas then pointed to the omission of dealing with over-declarations of tax.  He said: “We see this as a missed opportunity.  It would have been really useful to have had proper analysis of who are making these errors and why.  We have been working with HMRC for many years on these issues; it is unfortunate that the report does not reflect this.  Nor does it look at HMRC’s own error rate.  We welcome the acknowledgement in the report that were it not for the work of good agents in ensuring clients get their tax right, the level of under-declarations could be significantly larger.  Overall tax agents save the Government money both by helping their clients get their tax bills right and by taking on tasks that would otherwise fall to HMRC.

Mr Thomas concluded: “The CIOT will continue working for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – HMRC, taxpayers and their advisers.”

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