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Power between HMRC and tax payers unbalanced, says ICAEW

Following the release of a House of Lords report on treating taxpayers fairly, Frank Haskew, Head of the ICAEW Tax Faculty, endorsed the call for a new review of HMRC’s powers.

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January 2019

Commenting on the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report The Powers of HMRC: Treating Taxpayers Fairly, Frank Haskew, Head of ICAEW Tax Faculty, said: “The House of Lords has highlighted a number of concerns about the current balance between HMRC’s powers and taxpayer rights. Since the comprehensive review of HMRC’s powers concluded in 2012, we have slowly seen a shift in the balance being in favour of more powers for HMRC which are not always matched by corresponding taxpayer safeguards, for example the power to appeal against an accelerated payment notice.”

The report makes a number of recommendations which include a proposed new review of powers to consider the cumulative effect of recent changes and to identify what is needed as tax administration goes digital. “ICAEW, which gave evidence to the committee, would be happy to support and contribute to such a review,” Haskew said.

The Lords’ committee called for the oversight of HMRC and its powers to be reviewed. The report also recommended that consideration should be given to widening the remit of the Adjudicator’s Office, and to oblige HMRC to follow its recommendations. The committee also recommended that parliament considers how it can improve the scrutiny of the powers being given to HMRC and how it uses those powers.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Chairman of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said: “HMRC is right to tackle tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. However, a careful balance must be struck between clamping down and treating taxpayers fairly.

“Our evidence has convinced us that this balance has tipped too far in favour of HMRC and against the fundamental protections every taxpayer should expect.”

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