HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Orifice For Tax Simplification


Yesterday I wrote the following:

"This presents a golden opportunity for the government to radically simplify the tax system, thus making it easier for taxpayers and HMRC to 'administer' taxes and reduce the associated costs.

However, politicians by their very nature abhor 'simplification' as it makes them 'redundant' in the eyes of the voters.
"

Well, blinkey blonky blimey, as if by magic the government have announced today that they will set up an Orifice (or is it "Office"?) For Tax Simplification.

The chairman of the new body will be former Conservative MP and Treasury minister Michael Jack. Its director will be John Whiting, formerly of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who is tax director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation. Neither will be paid.

Treasury minister David Gauke is quoted by the BBC:

"The tax system created by the previous government was overly complex and has made the tax affairs of millions of families and businesses across the UK extremely complicated.

We need to reduce the complexities in our tax system and the coalition is committed to delivering that goal.

The Office for Tax Simplification will provide important advice that will help inform us in making the right reforms to the tax system that will help to pave the way to bringing more international business to the UK, which will give our economy the boost it so urgently needs in the years ahead.
"

Currently the UK has an 11,000 page tax code, aptly described by the Chancellor as a "spaghetti bowl"

The BBC reports that the Chancellor says:

"Britain has one of the most complex and opaque tax codes in the world.

And he wanted a "permanent body to push against the forces of complication" and make life easier for firms.

Announcing the new body, Mr Osborne said his "dream" was "that people might actually understand the tax laws which with they actually being asked to comply with".

The new body will initially conduct two reviews - streamlining 400 tax reliefs, allowances and exemptions and simplifying the tax system for small businesses, including a simpler alternative to the controversial IR35 code.

It will advise ministers where the tax system is too complex but it will not look at tax credits, which Mr Osborne said he considered part of the benefits system.
"

Not tax credits?

Aren't they one of the complicating factors?

If they are part of the "benefits" system, why do they fall under HMRC's remit?

So, loyal readers, are we to look forward to a massive simplification of our tax system?

Could it be that I was wrong, when I said that politicians "abhor simplification"?

Could it be that politicians really do want to make things simpler?

Let's see shall we?

I won't be eating crow just yet!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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17 comments:

  1. At the risk of sounding like Victor Meldrew - I just don't believe it.


    Announcing the new body, Mr Osborne said his "dream" was "that people might actually understand the tax laws which with they actually being asked to comply with".

    Sod the people (no offence intended) - perhaps the staff (in which I include myself) might be able understand them as well.

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  2. If this is what he dreams about then he needs to get out more.

    Sod the people (no offence intended) - perhaps the staff (in which I include myself) might be able understand them as well.

    As a self employed/tax payer. Is the complexity of the tax rules part of the reason HMRC appears to have so many internal problems?

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  3. When Tax Credits were introduced, and I was in at a fairly early stage,as an HMRC rep, we were informed in no uncertain terms that this was NOT a benefit . We were told,with a nudge and a wink that this was so the figures of those in receipt of benefit could be massaged, and so the government could plausibly deny that the mass of foreign migrant workers being planned for with EU enlargement would be benefit claimants from day one.

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  4. Anon @ 18:20.

    No , that's not why the department is in chaos. Yes, it's complex. We used to have people who understood, perfectly,different parts of the system. Got a query ? Speak to one of them. Get an answer. A definitive answer. Not perfect, sometimes it took a bit of time. But the answer was,generally,correct. Now we haven't. Speak to a call centre operator, who's following a script.Dumped on by managers and taxpayers alike. Not allowed, in the unlikely event that they actually KNOW anything about tax, to share that knowledge with you. Because we are obsessed with everyone getting a standard, consistent level of service. Even if the service is crap.

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  5. To the 18:28 poster.

    This sounds familiar to me.

    My partner works in an HMRC call center and is constantly being pulled up for using their knowledge/experience to sort out problems that other less experienced operators cannot deal with. The only problem is that because my partner feels that the service being provided is more important than a team leaders stats they have been classed as unable to do the job.

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  6. To the 18:58 poster

    I understand your partners difficulty. I have just been given a final written warning for telling callers the truth and I AM a team leader who does not give a stuff for stats as long as my team are doing the job to the best of their ability and providing as good a service as they possibly can. Looking forward to the Tribunal and my Constructive Dismissal Claim

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  7. 23:00

    Looking forward to the Tribunal and my Constructive Dismissal Claim

    Do not hold you breath on the managment following it through. I have seen reviews rewritten, threats withdrawn as soon as you challenge managment.

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  8. "Do not hold your breath on the management following it through"
    Doesnt matter. It will give them something to think about when they're at home having dinner worrying that his/her name could come up at a Tribunal.
    Some of these people think that they can make lower grade/lower paid staff lives miserable with warnings and silent innuendos and then just get up and leave at the end of the day but when you throw the grenade back into the managers lap (as long as you do it the correct way) you just have to sit back and watch their heads cook.
    Its just a case of slowly grinding them down.

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  9. I don't believe it will happen either, with a simpler tax system people might twig how much they really pay and just think of all those civil servants out of a job.

    Also It isn't totally about tax, we need to simplify the other reporting requirements as well. We need a much simpler small company structure with simplified accounts, eg just deduct capital expenses in the same way as current.

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  10. To the 21 July 2010 11:06 poster.

    Some of their names are also appearing on complaints being made to the health and safety executive.

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  11. Re my last post at 23:00, I have now resigned and my lawyer is already working on the ET1 for the Tribunal. Two ex Ops Managers spitting feathers as they both lost out on the prize for getting rid of me. Current Ops Manager not too happy because it was the one that altered the evidence which they tried to use when I was accused of falsifying official documents (that one was dropped in my recent discipline case) The list goes on and on. Good luch with the HSE, try and get them to have a long hard look at Risk Assessments (or lack of)

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  12. Sorry to hear you have had to resign but on the other hand I am pleased you are out of it now.

    The HSE were not that interested at first and we assumed it was becuase it was one governemnt organisation against another but once we confirmed we are getting statements from ex employees they took more notice. Oh and the fact there is a newspaper reporter working on a story about it as well may have helped.

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  13. Good, it's time some one took them to task.

    Good luck with it all & good luck for the future. :)

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  14. Staff are being bullied into signing up to PDEs (forward job plans) that are written in utterly meaningless, corporate-speak, gibberish. Most are signing them "simply for a quiet life". It is demeaning and and insulting to be bullied and browbeaten into submission like this. I aint signing... I'd rather chew on a razorblade sandwich. Can't wait for the management grenade to blow and to fark with the consequences 'cause they know I do the job I was hired to do.

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  15. Good point above.

    They should have scrapped those PDEs when they had that merger becuase they dont mean jack-shit.
    Theyre just blank cheques.
    Its emabarassing to go into a private room with a manager and its "now then, lets go over what you have achieved since this time last year............"
    You could bust your balls for hmrc and they wont give a flying fuck. Your better off do as little as possible.

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  16. To go back to the subject of the post, the trouble with 'Tax Simplification' is that it tends to be used as a cover for those who believe in simplifying tax only for corporations and the indigent rich. 'Simplification' in such cases usually means, "Cut the higher rate of income tax to 32% (or whatever figure you like), cut CT to 10% (or similar plucked-out-of-think-tank figure), and make up the shortfall by increasing VAT and by swingeing cuts. The flat-earth flat-taxers will love such an organisation, and seeing that:

    "The chairman of the new body will be former Conservative MP and Treasury minister Michael Jack. Its director will be John Whiting, formerly of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who is tax director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation."

    one can only assume that what is finally excreted from the Orifice will be the predictable s**t.

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  17. Tax simplification means finding ways to make it simple for rich people to avoid paying any tax.

    We can save a lot of time right now. Just abolish everything but PAYE, taxed at a flat rate of whatever %.

    Other ways to save money - simplify crime, make everything legal. Don't need to pay for police or judges then.

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