HMRC has responded to concerns from professional tax bodies by postponing a three-month test of its Agent View strategy for dealing with tax advisers.
Under its original plan, HMRC planned to select 80-90 tax agents whose clients’ returns and payment performance fell outside the department’s expected norms.
One of the more controversial elements of the department’s broader agent strategy, the agent view would extend HMRC’s risk-based compliance approach to advisers, who would be assessed according to their clients’ performance.
Drawing on data from its various computer systems, HMRC plans to monitor advisers’ performance by an agreed yardstick to compare how they perform against the norm.
Where problems are identified, HMRC would make contact with the firm or adviser to identify the reasons for any discrepancies in their performance. The pilot scheme will involve “collaborative meetings” where experienced agent account managers would explore why advisers’ client filing or payment rates were below average and ways things might be done differently. The department emphasised that they would not be compliance visits and that they would not discuss any client-specific matters
But the professional tax bodies had enough concerns about the scheme to write HMRC chief executive Lin Homer a letting asking for the test run to be suspended until those concerns were addressed. The pilot was due to get under way by the end of August, but HMRC announced on the 24th that it would delay the test run.