The government today announced that Department of Transport permanent secretary Lin Homer will take over as CEO of HMRC in January, but also announced that permanent tax secretary Dave Hartnett will retire in June.
Such is Hartnett’s profile these days that his retirement will spark more interest than the appointment of a new chief executive, who expressed her pleasure that he will be staying with for another six months to assist her transition.
“Dave is widely-recognised as a tax leader at home and abroad, and has secured billions in tax for the UK that would otherwise have been lost through avoidance, evasion and fraud,” said Homer.
Hartnett has been praised by AccountingWEB members (including tax editor Rebecca Benneyworth) as someone who knows how tax works and as an “agent-friendly” HMRC executive. But he is also a figure of controversy, particularly around his role in negotiated corporate tax dispute settlements with companies such as Vodafone and Goldman Sachs.
Last month, protesters from UK Uncut were demanding his resignation, and since the PAYE coding backlog built up in 2010, numerous AccountingWEB members have called for HMRC’s top brass to go. With Dame Leslie Strathie leaving for health reasons and the 61-year-old Hartnett announcing his retirement the critics will have got what they wanted in relatively face-saving circumstances.