A research perspective by Ann Hansford of Bristol Business School, University of the West of England - April 1999: The report highlights the problems taxpayers and their advisers have in dealing with the statement of account produced by the Revenue, attempting to look again at the whole system to see whether it can be improved and simplified. This report focuses on important self-assessment issues, from the practitioners’ perspective. These were established during the preliminary study of over 200 CIOT members. The main study considers the results of a questionnaire survey that was based on the issues raised during the preliminary study in greater detail.
Managing self-assessment focuses on the procedural issues raised by practitioners. There is a distinction between the mechanistic procedures involved in self-assessment and the interactive procedures. These latter ones, delays in responding to correspondence, information in letters and tax returns being ignored, create greater problems. Practitioners have provided a range of ways to overcome these problems and they are reported in detail in section 3.
Enquiries under self-assessment consider the changes that have occurred with the self-assessment regime. This section looks at the numbers and types of enquiries being raised. The analysis focuses on the time taken to resolve issues raised during the enquiry and the effect on clients of being the subject of an enquiry.
Developing self-assessment considers future changes. It reconsiders the procedural problems and assesses them on the basis of irrecoverable time costs for practitioners. From this the changes required can be prioritised, from the practitioners’ perspective. It also considers the reasons why changes have occurred.
The Inland Revenue were unwilling to participate in a parallel study. In order to place the findings from this study within the context of the debate on self-assessment, other studies have been considered in the final section.
Comparison with other recent studies reviews the Revenue’s Assessing Self Assessment: Response to the Public Consultation on Self Assessment, in detail. This section considers the common objectives of both studies. It then focuses on the differences in the conclusion drawn by the Revenue and the conclusion from this study, based on the evidence provided by practitioners and reported in the following pages.
[The report: Self assessment - working towards best practice]