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CIOT members should defend HMRC says new president

CIOT members should defend HMRC says new president

Patrick Stevens, the newly appointed president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, has urged his members to defend the UK tax system when it comes under unfair criticism.

He made his comment at the CIOT’s AGM last week adding that negative headlines about HMRC could give taxpayers the impression that the tax system is broken. This undermines confidence and could reduce compliance. He called on members to continue representing taxpayers and advisers to the Revenue, but also to challenge exaggerations that the system is failing.

Stevens explained that in his previous role with Ernst & Young he visited tax colleagues in Europe to find out how they coped with local tax systems. One of the countries he visited was Greece and he discovered that the majority of people there do not pay the right amount of tax. It appeared that overseas companies were the only ones contributing close to the correct tax and as a result the country has no money.

UK citizens tend to be law abiding and our laws normally produce a sensible result, he continued. However, we’ve seen a lot of headlines in the last couple of years about inefficiency in HMRC, tax avoidance by large companies and the deals the Revenue makes with them. These headlines give the impression of a broken tax system and people start to question whether they need to take part in it.

The CIOT needs to help HMRC get it right, but it also needs to support the department when journalists and campaign groups level unfair criticism against it. The system is over-complex and it could definitely be improved, but it is not broken, he concluded.

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Image: On a shoestring by HowardLake

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