Tick-tock, tick-tock ... but are HMRC listening?

and are the PAC keeping up the pressure for them to stay on schedule?

Didn't find your answer?

Not so long ago, on 24th November to be precise, the PAC published "Progress with Making Tax Digital - Eightieth Report of Session 2022–23" ... after taking (almost apologetic) evidence on 19th June from Jim Harra and compadres, and then going on to consider written evidence from a small group (including some of the PBs).

The summary, at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5803/cmselect/cmpubacc/1333/summ... , was coruscating and included:

* "we are concerned that the additional burdens of Making Tax Digital will make tax more difficult for taxpayers" + "HMRC has lost sight of the need to put customers at the heart of its changes to the tax system"

* "with £640m of taxpayer’s money spent, we are concerned that the final bill for the programme could end up much higher than HMRC’s latest forecast of £1.3bn"

* "with some significant design issues still to resolve and less than three years before HMRC begins introducing the programme for self-employed people, we are sceptical its new timetable is achievable.  HMRC must ensure its plans are realistic and specify and commit to a budget and timetable and hold senior leaders accountable for delivery."


Why am I highlighting news from 2 months ago (especially when it doesn't feel like news to most people on here)?  Because the conclusions included:

* Recommendation 2a: HMRC should, in partnership with its programme stakeholders including customers, tax agents and software providers, resolve design issues and write to the Committee by April 2024 to explain how each of the significant outstanding design issues have been resolved.

* Recommendation 5a: HMRC should, as part of its Treasury Minute response, explain how it will assure itself that the timetable and budget for Making Tax Digital for Self Assessment is realistic and how it will use independent technical assurance and other sources of evidence to provide this assurance.

* Recommendation 6a: HMRC should, within three months, write to the Committee and set out how it will ensure that it strikes the right balance between ensuring competition, quality and access to software for its Making Tax Digital VAT and Self Assessment customers.

6b) HMRC should, within three months, write to the Committee explaining what assurance customers can take from its accreditation of software and how it will protect taxpayers if the software (rather than the taxpayer) makes mistakes in tax submissions or does not safeguard taxpayer data sufficiently.


There are plenty of other interesting findings and worthwhile recommendations (for those who want to read the full report  it's available at https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/42230/documents/209995/def... ) ... but as per the title above, the clock is ticking for HMRC - with little sign of them trying to adhere to those deadlines.

I've heard nothing from developers to suggest that Recommendation 2a can be met / Recommendation 5a seems to have been missed / and I await (without holding my breath) any imminent announcements regarding Recommendations 6a & 6b.

However it is the recommendation that I've not yet mentioned that most intrigues me:

* Recommendation 1b) HMRC should, as part of its Treasury Minute response, specify in detail how it will hold senior leaders accountable for delivering against the programme’s timetable and budget, and what consequence there will be for any further timetable and budget overruns.


I doubt they had much of a queue forming to volunteer for contributions to that Treasury Minute response (which hasn't yet appeared)!

It could become a fight between those keen to keep their heads out of the firing-lines and the possibility of personal salvation in the guise of a GE.  Any bets?

Replies (7)

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By DKB-Sheffield
28th Jan 2024 23:36

On the subject... the was on my l
Google list of 'news we think you may like' (but probably won't) today...


Whilst possibly not the most trustworthy source, note the final paragraph...

"A Treasury source said the deadline had 'some flexibility' and had been extended by 'a few weeks'.'"

So, that's alright then?! HMRC work to flexible deadlines now. I may take the next 3 days off and see if they'll reciprocate that flexibity!

Thanks (2)
Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
By FactChecker
29th Jan 2024 01:10

HMRC appear to have misread Tolkien's famous line as "one rule to ring them all"
... and that rule is "We're always right and you're not, so go away"!

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Replying to FactChecker:
paddle steamer
29th Jan 2024 17:36

In fact they appear to consider themselves similarly to this view expressed about Jowett,

"First come I; my name is Jowett. There's no knowledge but I know it.
I am Master of this college: What I don't know isn't knowledge."

Thanks (1)
By bernard michael
29th Jan 2024 09:29

Is Fujitsu preparing the MTD software ??

Thanks (1)
Replying to bernard michael:
By Chessaccountant
29th Jan 2024 16:24

We'll find out in ten years when half the country is guilty of tax fraud and are then pardoned 10 years after that. :)

Thanks (0)
By FactChecker
30th Jan 2024 10:24

And in the meantime - if you want an insight into how seriously HMRC are committed to their vision of 'customer service - take a look at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/self-assessment-helpline-revi...

This claims to be the Impact Assessment of "Self Assessment Helpline - revised service offer from December 2023 to January 2024", but:

1. it's published 2 days before the *end* of that policy (not in advance when a policy is merely a proposal, as they are supposed to do);

2. it takes a lot of words to say, in essence, 'it won't makes things any worse than they already are - so move along, nothing to see here'!

Roll on MTD ITSA eh? It's bound to be a doddle.
I've just realised, HMRC's love of acronyms has lead them to invite us to complete this one for them ... MTD It's A (followed by whatever you feel is appropriate).

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By FactChecker
30th Jan 2024 13:54

And today I've received another HMRC email, which Aweb's software is preventing me from posting as a new post ... so I'll stick it in here (just first part to give you a flavour):

Dear customer,

Thank you for your co-operation over the past few weeks as we amended our services for agents to focus on the Self Assessment (SA) peak.

One of the changes we made was introducing webchat for agents. Feedback has told us that this has been a useful addition to our service, so we have decided to continue offering webchat services for our Agent Dedicated Line (ADL) beyond 31 January 2024 on both SA and Pay as You Earn (PAYE). This will change how we handle some agent queries going forward.

We are also making some changes to how we support agents who are progress chasing SA, PAYE and Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) tax relief repayments on the ADL – which will begin immediately.

Continuing our webchat service
Offering a webchat service on the ADL not only aligns with our ambitions of serving more customers through digital channels to reduce the number of calls to our helplines, but it’s also been well used by our customers. Around 15,000 agents each month have been using our webchat services.

Our SA ADL webchat will focus on all SA topics in line with how we’ve already been working. Agents will be able to access the service via our digital assistant which is currently dealing with around 40% of all SA queries without the need to transfer to a colleague. Of course, we understand that some agents will have complex or urgent SA queries and will need to speak to one of our advisers – they can still call our ADL, selecting option 1 from the menu if needed.

Our PAYE webchat service will focus on repayment queries and can be accessed through PAYE digital assistant. Agents with PAYE coding queries or complex PAYE queries can once again call the ADL, selecting option 2 from the menu.

I've given up looking for a better example of fingers-in-ears/we can't hear you but everything's fine!

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