The PAYE farce: Simon Sweetman's verdict
Last week's PAC report held few surprises for Simon Sweetman, but this one might have a final twist in the plot.
The Public Accounts Committee report on HMRC’s 2009-10 accounts give HMRC a good kicking over the effects of the introduction of its new computer system. The committee is chaired by Margaret Hodge but has a majority of Tory members.
Sadly, MPs are particularly adept at kicking a man when he is down and often rather less willing to have a go at the powerful.
The Committee said the department has not delivered an acceptable standard of service to PAYE taxpayers and failed to collect tax that is properly due, caused uncertainty to taxpayers and treated them inequitably. Much of this is true, though it fails to mention that it has equally failed to deliver an acceptable standard of service to other taxpayers, with only large businesses seeming to be happy with the service they get.
The usual response from our listeners seems to be to call for the head of Lesley Strathie or Dave Hartnett or Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh (since these are the names that people know). But are they really the right candidates for the guillotine?
And now, as we know, HMRC is continuing the process of modernising PAYE for the 21st century through the introduction of Real Time Information (RTI). This, they say, will help reduce the need for reconciliations in the future. Some of us have had severe doubts about HMRC’s ability to manage this on top of everything else.