The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed today’s publication of a revised HMRC Charter setting out the tax authority’s customer service commitments. The CIOT is encouraging HMRC to actively promote the Charter to taxpayers and ensure its principles are embedded within the department’s day to day operations.
The Charter sets out standards of behaviour and values to which HMRC will aspire when dealing with taxpayers. HMRC consulted on a revised version of the Charter earlier this year. The CIOT expressed several concerns with the initial draft when it responded to the consultation.1 As a result of talks between HMRC and their stakeholders, including CIOT, the revised charter is a significant improvement from the initial draft, says the Institute.
John Cullinane, CIOT's Director of Public Policy, said:
“HMRC’s Charter is an important document setting out HMRC’s commitment to treat taxpayers fairly, responsively and with respect. It is a key signpost and safeguard for taxpayers, particularly for those who do not have an adviser.
“We were concerned that initial proposals for the revised Charter lowered the bar in terms of HMRC’s obligations, with commitments excessively caveated and not clearly defined. We are pleased that the revised Charter contains unconditional commitments about helping people meet their tax responsibilities, providing accurate, consistent and clear information, and better answering questions and resolving contentious matters at the first opportunity.
“We are pleased that the revised Charter2 retains important commitments, such as keeping costs to taxpayers at a minimum, making sure that the HMRC people they deal with have the right level of expertise, and respecting people’s wishes to have someone else represent them.
“We are also pleased that HMRC appear to have agreed with our recommendation to align their performance measures around their Charter obligations. HMRC have now published a number of ‘Charter performance indicators’.3 These draw on a variety of data sources such as HMRC’s annual Individuals, Small Business and Agents Customer Surveys, complaints data, and HMRC’s monthly performance reports. We look forward to working with HMRC to identify other ways in which adherence to the Charter can be measured, such as HMRC’s Civil Service People Survey, GOV.UK customer feedback ratings, and NAO monitoring.”
Commenting on the consultation process, John Cullinane said:
“HMRC were fully engaged and willing to take on board some difficult feedback from us and other stakeholders on the draft Charter.
“We look forward to continued engagement with HMRC as they seek to embed the revised Charter within HMRC, and increase awareness of it among taxpayers - which is, of course, the key to the Charter being successful. Some of the conduct we have seen suggests that some HMRC officers are not aware of or did not implement the old Charter. Awareness among taxpayers needs reinforcing, particularly among individuals and small businesses.”
The Institute has also suggested that consideration should be given to penalising HMRC when they fail to adhere to their Charter obligations, including requiring them to financially compensate taxpayers where delays, inconvenience or additional costs have resulted.
Notes for editors
1. Toothless HMRC Charter needs more bite, says CIOT, July 2020
2. The HMRC Charter is now published on GOV.UK, please see the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hmrc-charter