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HMRC Continues To Consult On Modernising Its Powers

by Jason Gorringe,, London

18 May 2007

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on Thursday published two more consultation papers, as part of its work to modernise its powers, deterrents and the accompanying safeguards.

Currently, HMRC relies on provisions inherited from its predecessor Departments - the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise - which evolved over a considerable period of time, and involve substantial differences between different areas and taxes.

The first consultation paper considers a possible compliance checking framework which would:

  • Align rules across income tax, corporation tax, VAT, PAYE and NICs, where doing so would bring more clarity, consistency and efficiency, and reduce costs for both taxpayers and HMRC;
  • Set out requirements and safeguards which distinguish between non-business and business taxpayers; and
  • Better align the time limits for making tax assessments for different taxes.

The options were discussed with business and representatives of the professions at workshops during the summer and autumn last year, and reflect responses to previous consultations.

The second paper examines:

  • Safeguards within non-tax legislation and non-UK tax legislation which ensure that HMRC itself complies with the legislation, and provides taxpayers with easy access to the underlying safeguards; and
  • Safeguards related to the administration of the tax system (e.g. the Civil Service Code, handling of appeals and complaints, guidance and codes of practice).

It will consider whether the safeguards are effective, and whether HMRC is doing enough to make taxpayers aware of the safeguards, and to implement them.

The deadline for submitting comments for both consultations is 10 August 2007.

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