HMRC overhauls tax dispute structure

Responding to criticism from MPs, HMRC will appoint a new commissioner to oversee major tax disputes.

Prompted by the controversies over billion-pound settlements with the likes of Vodafone and Goldman Sachs that by-passed some of its existing controls on disputes, HMRC announced that a new assurance commissioner will be appointed to oversee all large settlements. The commissioner will be appointed at permanent secretary level, equivalent to soon-to-retire permanent tax secretary Dave Hartnett, whose role in large tax disputes has come under the microscope.

The new approach will review all cases worth more than £100m, an increase on the previous level of £250m for which commissioner approval was previously needed. A new governance code for tax disputes will be introduced and the assurance commissioner will undertake a review of the processes used to in all of HMRC’s settlement work.

 As a final plank in the department’s push for greater transparency in this area, its audit and risk committee will play a more active role in overseeing tax settlements. There will also be a section devoted to disputes in HMRC’s annual report.

Last December the Commons Public Accounts Committee picked up on criticisms in the National Audit Office report on HMRC’s 2010-11 accounts. In three of the largest settlements the NAO examined one or both of the Commissioners signing off the settlement also participated in the negotiations.

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ThornyIssues | | Permalink

“ ...... This commissioner will take the role of challenging whether any proposed settlement secured the correct amount of tax efficiently and that taxpayers had been treated even-handedly,” she said. ........"

How about starting with IR35 Ms Homer. It has not been fair and proportional, nor has it been efficient.