HMRC’s 10-year report card

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It’s now a decade since former Cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell decided to merge the Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise.

Since its inception on April 18th 2005, HMRC has certainly been no stranger to the headlines. From the furore surrounding the HSBC scandal to regular sparring matches with the Public Accounts Committee, the Revenue’s first decade has certainly been eventful.

But has the taxman fulfilled the mandate it was given, or is it struggling to meet expectations? Our managing director, Derek Kelly, gave his opinion on the matter.

Derek said: “HMRC’s main raison d’être was to ‘collect the right amount of tax at the right time’. While it has undeniably made significant efforts to do so, this has only really come to the fore in the last couple of years – all the while against the backdrop of dwindling staff numbers.

“The seemingly never-ending resource cuts have left the Revenue often pursuing easy targets such as contractors and the self-employed, rather than going after multinational corporations that are avoiding billions of pounds worth of tax every year. This trend has not gone unnoticed, with HMRC recently coming under fire over its alleged bias against contractors and small businesses.

“Looking ahead to the next decade, it seems clear that HMRC – in common with all Whitehall departments – will need to work smarter and do more with less.

“HMRC cannot simply rely on technology alone to solve all its problems. It needs highly-skilled and motivated staff. Workforce morale appears lower than ever and the number of fully-trained inspectors is dwindling due to retirements and the lack of planning in recruitment and training. Without skilled and motivated people, HMRC will fail – just like other public sector organisations.

“Contractors and small business owners embody the ambition and can-do entrepreneurial spirit the government wants to encourage, so it is vital that HMRC does not discourage talented professionals from making the leap by creating the impression that the taxman is out to get them.”

Have your say

Are you a contractor? Do you think HMRC’s first decade in existence has been successful? What would you like to see it achieve in the future? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.