I missed this earlier this month ...

Meg Hillier letter to Jim Harra (reported in Civil Service World . com but nowhere else)?

Didn't find your answer?

https://www.civilserviceworld.com/professions/article/hmrc-rapped-for-un...

There are some choice phrases pertaining to HMRC performance in general and the (lack of) progress with MTD in particular ...

Hillier’s letter urged Harra to go further and set out “what are you doing differently to ensure these processes will work more effectively than they have so far”.  “Whilst your response outlines the governance and accountability processes in place, these existed before the committee heard from you in 2023. These have not proved sufficient to date,” she said.

Turning to MTD ... 

Hillier said that assessing the additional revenue from increasing digital record-keeping for self-assessment taxpayers was “fundamental to the programme’s business case justification”.

“You have not attempted to demonstrate consideration of further robust testing of the financial information underpinning your programme, for example, controlled behavioural experiments to ascertain the difference that more regular filing can make to the accuracy of returns. VAT returns were already provided quarterly and cannot provide this assurance,” she said.

And continued ... 

“Your minimum functionality standard for software products is still out of date, which gives little confidence that you have listened to our concerns on this matter,” Hillier said.  She said that while the tax agency has committed to ending the requirement for taxpayers to submit an "end of period" declaration and statement, this is still included as a requirement in a list of minimum-functionality standards on HMRC’s website for tax software and app developers.

And she said the website includes links to “a number of unusable software options”, including one that says it is still “under construction” and another that does not provide information in English.

.

It's marginally nice to know that the messages pumped out by members on this site is finally percolating through to Parliament ... but if only someone could work out how to surgically replace the tin ears issued to all senior management in HMRC!

{If you're a glutton for punishment, try following the various links regarding MTD on that site ... going backwards in time.  It's not as though we're the only people that can see the looming iceberg - and have done so for quite some time - it's just that no-one has control of the vampire that is HMRC}

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VAT
By Jason Croke
25th Apr 2024 12:33

Link no longer working, but thanks for the detailed post which I think nobody would disagree with.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By FactChecker
25th Apr 2024 18:03

Sorry about the link - see helpful correction from williams lester accountants.

What I (almost) enjoy is seeing the care that Dame Hillier has put into selecting her words ... they are still just the right side of avoiding 'unparliamentary language', but she leaves absolutely no doubt that she doesn't believe a lot of what the PAC are being told + that what is not untrue is at best irrelevant & meaningless hot air + the MTD project as it stands will not 'work' (by any sensible person's definition of that term).

In the not far-off times of even the Blair government, HMRC would have been more robustly termed 'a basket-case' ... if not the over-used 'not fit for purpose'.

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Replying to williams lester accountants:
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By FactChecker
25th Apr 2024 17:43

Thanks ... was in rush and didn't do my usual double-check of the link (mea culpa).

I should know better because it *keeps* happening when I copy'n'paste a link in Aweb ... it appends a few garbage characters at the end of the pasted text (which are easy enough to remove IF I remember to double-check in time). Thanks, again.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
25th Apr 2024 13:01

"Hillier said that assessing the additional revenue from increasing digital record-keeping for self-assessment taxpayers was “fundamental to the programme’s business case justification”."

I reckon it'll reduce revenue. But we'll never know because, if it does, they won't admit it.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th Apr 2024 15:08

I would agree is would reduce it overall as poor bookkeeping normally misses expenses, but revenues are almost always recorded in full other than deliberate fraud around "cash in hand"

I have been putting that in MTD feedback submissions since year dot. And I belive the initial stats for MTD backed that up as software tends to over-code VAT which isnt on that invoice despite the category being a standard rate cost code. I

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By David Ex
25th Apr 2024 15:04

Some House of Lords committee was equally withering in its assessment years ago and Harra just ploughs on regardless.

It’s disgraceful. But, then again, we’re dealing with a man who thinks shutting helplines improves customer service. Difficult to have a sensible conversation with people like that.

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By Dougscott
25th Apr 2024 17:09

He's a tax inspector not a CEO.

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By FactChecker
25th Apr 2024 17:57

Actually "First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive" (although he's been known to say he's the M.D.) ... but you're sort of right:
- joined the old Inland Revenue (straight from Uni) as an inspector of taxes in 1984;
- became Director of Corporation Tax and VAT in January 2009;
- then Director of Personal Tax Customer Operations in March 2011;
- then Director Personal Tax Operations in October 2011;
- became Director-General for Business Tax from 2012 to 2016;
- before being appointed Tax Assurance Commissioner AND Director General Customer Strategy and Design in October 2016;
- then appointed Second Permanent Secretary at HMRC in November 2017;
- and First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of HMRC since October 2019.

So he obviously knows how to negotiate the career ladder ... but there's little sign of any experience/understanding having 'stuck' from his days at the coal-face.

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By More unearned luck
25th Apr 2024 20:41

Presumably the "and chief executive" is added to stop people thinking that he does the typing.

He is also one of the commissioners.

What I don't understand is that there are 7 commissioners only some of whom are on the Board of HMRC and that there are Board members who aren't commissioners. So 'the commissioners' and 'the Board' aren't synonyms. Whereas in the case of a company I would expect 'the directors' and 'the Board' to mean the same group of people.

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Replying to More unearned luck:
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By More unearned luck
25th Apr 2024 20:55

Years ago the firm I worked for then did work for the local council. We were instructed by the Town Clerk. His successor styled herself Town Clerk and CEO and the current incumbent is simply 'chief executive'. It's a kind of inflation.

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Replying to More unearned luck:
RLI
By lionofludesch
25th Apr 2024 21:02

More unearned luck wrote:

Presumably the "and chief executive" is added to stop people thinking that he does the typing.

He is also one of the commissioners.

What I don't understand is that there are 7 commissioners only some of whom are on the Board of HMRC and that there are Board members who aren't commissioners. So 'the commissioners' and 'the Board' aren't synonyms. Whereas in the case of a company I would expect 'the directors' and 'the Board' to mean the same group of people.

Commissioners are the fellas who stand by the office door in a military style uniform and greet visitors.

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Replying to More unearned luck:
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By FactChecker
25th Apr 2024 21:28

Rather doubt you wanted an answer and I can't find a proper one anyway (other than the catch-all of 'HMRC are a law unto themselves')!

But according to ESM2503:
"An office may be created by a charter, statute, or other document which is, or forms part of, the constitution of an organisation or which governs its operation.
For example, a director of a company is an office holder because the Companies Act requires a company to have a board of directors and similarly all companies are required to have a company secretary; a Special Commissioner holds an office created by the Taxes Acts.
There is no statutory definition of ‘director’ but the term includes executive, non-executive and nominee directors."

The mud isn't clearing at my end ... but I guess a Board at HMRC is just a figleaf?

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By FactChecker
25th Apr 2024 18:22

STOP PRESS:

Despite everybody else's opinion that MTD ITSA has a life expectancy that would be exceeded by a pheasant that has already been hit by a passing truck and now finds itself looking at a farmer who's holding a loaded shotgun ... HMRC don't give up!

I've just received an email from Craig Ogilvie, Director of Making Tax Digital, that opens with: "Dear customer, You can now sign up more of your clients to MTD for Income Tax testing."

It offers absolutely no new information (and certainly doesn't address any of the known but unresolved major gaps/failings) ... indeed the only 'benefit' it holds out is:
"For those who join testing in 2024 to 2025, the team can also support the individual, or their agent, with some of the individual’s wider personal tax affairs (individual PAYE and Self Assessment matters) for the 2024 to 2025 financial year."

Is that another way of saying ... 'if your clients want any help from HMRC with PAYE and/or SA queries in the forthcoming year, then they'll need to volunteer to sign up early for MTD ITSA'?
So it's true ... the sky IS falling!

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By Jo Nokes
26th Apr 2024 08:40

You should see the magnificent Jim dissembling in front of the Commons committee a couple of days ago. Viewable on Parliament TV. I had to laugh when he came out with the number of days it was taking to answer post. But no committee member pulled him up on that

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Replying to Jo Nokes:
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By FactChecker
26th Apr 2024 12:17

And they're rolling out all the tanks now (a sign of desperation I guess) ... this morning brings publication of:
"Corporate report: Making Tax Digital Programme: Accounting Officer's Assessment" ... (my heart just skipped a beat in anticipation)!

The summary is at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-tax-digital-programme-...

FWIW the background is that "Departmental Accounting Officers must produce an assessment of all projects or programmes which form part of the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) - with projects assessed against 4 criteria:
- regularity
- propriety
- value for money
- feasibility."
.

My favourite quote (if only because it demonstrates that they're now having to dip even further into George Orwell's Newspeak dictionary) is:
"MTD is an ‘in-flight’ programme established at the start of Spending Review 2015 (SR15) and reaffirmed in written ministerial statements in July 2020 and December 2022."

'in-flight' ... isn't that the status of all aircraft/rockets/etc before they crash?

There's loads more 'fun phrases' ... so knock yourself out and have a read of it.
.
[Spoiler alert: right at the end you'll find the Accounting Officer’s name is ... Jim Harra, Chief Executive, HM Revenue and Customs - marking his own homework!]

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By FactChecker
27th Apr 2024 10:19

And the signs of desperation ratchet up another notch ...

Today's HMRC email of notifications regarding new PAYE info/announcements (a very focussed sub-group that is only concerned with a miniscule proportion of what HMRC publishes on GOV.UK) contains:

"Sign up voluntarily for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax:
information for users who want to voluntarily sign up now was updated as you can now use the sign up service instead of a software provider."

What that has to do with anyone developing/running PAYE software is far from obvious to me ... and it suggests that, in the absence of software providers rushing to get their users signed-up to the MTD ITSA pilot, HMRC are now asking the general public to 'have a go'!

Have they heard the expression 'you reap what you sow'?

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