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HMRC to improve relations with tax agents

HMRC to improve relations with tax agents

HMRC intends to improve its relations with the tax agent community, a move which could bring benefits to contractor accountants.

The department has drawn up a list of proposals which include understanding the tax system from the perspective of an agent and providing additional security against fraud by enrolling agents on a database.

HMRC spokesman, Brian Radford, pointed out that tax agents had a vital role to play in delivering the tax system and the Revenue would be unable to function without them. HMRC wants to improve its service to take account of the changing needs of its customers and make administration more consistent and efficient.

He concluded by saying the department had been working closely with agent representative bodies because they also want to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations effectively and efficiently.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation has welcomed the move. The president of the Institute, Anthony Thomas, said agents are likely to welcome the proposed self-serve facility so that they can access some of HMRC’s system. Agents get frustrated at the time wasted waiting for the Revenue to do its job, correcting errors and routinely chasing progress. If the self-serve facility is implemented effectively, it could save agents, HMRC and taxpayers both time and money.

Thomas did express concerns that the database enrolment should be overseen by an independent body and the system must not become bogged down with excessive bureaucracy. It’s important to remember that tax advisers are agents to their clients and not the Revenue.

HMRC’s proposals are now at the consultation stage and the Revenue intends to run a series of meetings and workshops with agents to find out their views.

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