Are HMRC any good at reviewing themselves?

Steve Knowles
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Last April 1, (all fools day?)  HMRC started a new process of internal review.  If you got a decision from them that you didn’t like or agree with you could ask them to reconsider.  Another officer would check it over and agree your appeal, change it, or reject it.

In the nine months to 31 December 20778 “customers” asked for a review.  Of these 18,256 were completed,of which 81% were unrepresented taxpayers.    8,952  (48.3 %) were upheld and 51.7% were cancelled or  varied.

What does this say about HMRC penalty system?  It says it is worth appealing.  It shows what a good job “agents” are doing for HMRC in reducing their work load.   No information was given on how many penalty notices were issued.

About Steve Knowles

About Steve Knowles

Steve set up his own practice working out of a back bedroom 27 years ago. The business grew and now employs 23 people. The foundation of our business is the relationship we have with our clients, and our commitment to their success. He has other business interests including financial services, property development and a software company based in America. Steve served as a Governor at the Sheffield College for five years before being asked to become Chairman of the Board of Governors. He is a past Chairman of the Sheffield Business Club and is currently President of the Sheffield & District Society of Chartered Accountants. He has been married to Christine for over 30 years, and they have two daughters. In his spare time he is an armchair sportsman.


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By Anonymous
17th Mar 2010 12:25

Too early to tell?

I suppose the real test of whether HMRC are 'any good at reviewing themselves' is the use that is made of these data. If next year the stats show that more decisions are being made correctly in the first place, then the answer would seem to be 'yes'. I accept that there could be other explanations.

Meanwhile I'm slightly puzzled by the statement 'It shows what a good job “agents” are doing for HMRC in reducing their work load'. I'm sure that the sentiment behind this is true, but earlier you say that 81% of appellants didn't use an agent. Have I missed something?

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18th Mar 2010 12:04

Too Early

 My thinking was that if there were very few appeals from represented taxpayers the agents had either, done the job right in the first place, so penalty was necessary, or they had explained to their client that there chance was low and no appeal was made.  Either way HMRC were not having to deal with the taxpayer and were more efficient.


I am concerned that HMRC's idea that agents help clients reduce their tax bills and that this is wrong needs to be balanced with an understanding of what we do to make the whole system work.


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