Five recommendations for restoring trust in HMRC

Despite action taken by HMRC to reform its assurance procedures, the department remains under pressure to prove that it is doing all it should to collect tax. Trust in HMRC is vital for a good tax system. To improve the current position tax reform proposals need to be based on clear underlying principles. Consultation is now very frequent but it needs to be wider, more comprehensive and better understood. Changes are also needed to the staffing and operation of the revenue authorities. We should welcome, and build upon, good relationships between taxpayers and HMRC, but to provide the necessary assurance, qualified independent experts should be appointed to check on tax settlements as a matter of routine, not only when there is a public outcry. And finally, HMRC should be represented in Parliament by a minister with full accountability, whilst also preserving taxpayer confidentiality.