Simon Sweetman was an inspector of taxes for 18 years. He left the Inland Revenue in 1989 to join Chartered Accountants Scrutton Goodchild & Sanderson, later part of Scrutton Bland, where he was successively a senior manager and later a partner. He has been an independent consultant since 2001. He is a former member of the tax policy unit of the Federation of Small Businesses and the small business working group of the Chartered Institute of Taxation.
HMRC's big seven
It's been a busy week for HMRC - Lesley Strathie was recognised in the Queen's birthday honours and details of the department's top earners were released.
This week it was announced that HMRC chief executive Lesley Strathie had been made a Dame of the British Empire (although it was probably more for the things she did before she joined HMRC).
"2009 has been a great year for HMRC, with lots to celebrate," she said in an interview in December 2009. "We delivered a programme of modernisation of PAYE which introduced a new national insurance and PAYE aervice – the biggest change to personal tax processing for 25 years. It has created one single record for each of our 45 million customers’ pay and tax details, which means that most customers will only have to make one call to us if they have a query on any of their PAYE tax and national insurance issues.
"There are always more challenging decisions than easy ones, but the most important I took this year was to agree that Modernising PAYE Processes for Customers (MPPC) was ready for and able to go live on 29 June. This change affected some 45 million taxpayers, and we had to get this right. This was a massive step forward and I am thrilled that, as one of our major payroll providers put it, we were able to achieve this without the vast majority of the taxpayer population noticing that anything had happened".
That was before the issue of coding notices - I think they may have noticed now.
Also this week, a list of HMRC's top earners was released. The 'big seven' are as follows:
- The highest paid is Steve Larmey, director general of benefits and credits, in the £205-210k bracket.
- Next is Simon Bowles, chief finance officer, at £185-190k.
- Phil Pavitt, chief information officer - £180-185k.
- Mike Falvey, chief people officer - £175-180k.
- Lesley Strathie herself, chief executive officer - £170-175k.
- Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax - £160-165k.
- Mike Clasper, non-executive chair - £150-155k (but that is for three days a week).
What separates Dave Hartnett from the others, you might wonder? He's the only one on the list with a background in tax.
So what do you think of that?
(P.S. Anyone who earns more than Dave Hartnett is disqualified from answering!)