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HMRC’s revamped Charter focuses on customers

6 November: HMRC has published its new Charter outlining what taxpayers can expect when interacting with it alongside data on how it is meeting those standards.

In a consultation in February HMRC confirmed that it intended to revamp its Charter to make it easier to understand and to focus on its commitments to taxpayers.

The HMRC Charter is a legal requirement introduced by Finance Act 2009. The legislation states that the Charter “…must include standards of behaviour and values to which Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will aspire when dealing with people in the exercise of their functions”.

The format of the new Charter, published on 5 November, is a clear departure from the previous standard, published in 2015, which was split into lists of taxpayer rights and obligations. The new Charter instead opens with a statement with HMRC committing to help customers meet their tax responsibilities and ensure they receive the support and benefits they are entitled to.

The bulk of the text focuses on HMRC’s seven standards which are recognisable from the previous iteration and include: getting things right, making things easy, being responsive, and treating taxpayers fairly.

The new Charter also commits to taking into account taxpayers’ personal situations, with HMRC providing additional details on the extra support it will provide in a separate document.

Rather than a list of obligations for taxpayers, the new Charter includes a commitment to and a request for “mutual respect”, reiterating that it expects its staff to be treated with respect.

In response to feedback during the consultation process, alongside the Charter HMRC has published information for taxpayers unhappy with its decisions or service, including links to instructions on how to make complaints and appeals.

HMRC has also provided information on how it is monitoring its performance against the Charter and has gathered together data from surveys and performance statistics against each of the seven standards.

The move goes some way to meet ICAEW’s recommendation that HMRC needed to be held more accountable for its performance against the Charter (see ICAEW REP 50/20).

ICAEW’s Tax Faculty, which has representation on the HMRC stakeholder group supporting the changes to the Charter, welcomed the changes that have been made in response to the consultation. “The next step will be in ensuring that the Charter is embedded within HMRC,” it said.