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Harra takes temporary charge at HMRC

HMRC has announced the appointment of Jim Harra to interim chief executive with immediate effect while the tax authority seeks a permanent replacement for Jon Thompson.

4th Oct 2019
Editor AccountingWEB
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The provisional promotion follows former chief executive Thompson’s move to head up the Financial Reporting Council as the accountancy watchdog evolves into a new body with wider legal powers, billed as the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) - a position which Thompson started this week.

Promoted in 2017 to the new position of ‘second permanent secretary’ and deputy chief executive following the retirement of executive chair Edward Troup, Harra will now remain in charge at the Revenue until a permanent appointment is made. 

Harra will chair the tax authority's executive committee, be responsible for delivering its strategy and will be accountable to Parliament for HMRC’s spending and performance.

HMRC also announced that Harra has been appointed interim accounting officer, alongside his existing roles as tax assurance commissioner and head of the government’s tax profession. As commissioner, Harra oversees arrangements and governance mechanisms for resolving tax disputes.

'A real tax professional'

Harra first joined the Inland Revenue in 1984 as an inspector of taxes and has gone on to serve as director of corporation tax and VAT, director of personal tax customer operations, director of personal tax operations and director of general business tax.

Frank Haskew, head of the ICAEW Tax Faculty commented that in a time of change, HMRC has made "the right choice" in opting for a continuity candidate, and praised the department for appointing "a real tax professional".

Harra takes over as HMRC prepares to guide businesses through a potential no-deal exit from the European Union. Last month, he wrote to VAT-registered businesses in the UK setting out the steps they must take to trade with EU states after Brexit.

MTD driving force

Harra has been one of the Revenue’s driving forces behind the development of the Making Tax Project, making numerous public appearances and statements to try to assuage the accounting profession's concerns about the project.

In August 2016, Harra told AccountingWEB that HMRC wants to integrate tax compliance with how people run their businesses. “Rather than having to do a separate exercise to do tax compliance,” he said, “we want the updates to be produced from their business activity.”

Along with championing MTD, Harra also appeared on a BBC Panorama programme about tax avoidance, has appeared before the Treasury Select Committee to argue that HMRC needs significantly more border staff to cope after Brexit, and defended the new IR35 rules for private sector entities.

Replies (3)

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Chris M
By mr. mischief
05th Oct 2019 15:16

Just when you think HMRC can't possibly get any worse or less competent, this happens.

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Replying to mr. mischief:
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By AndyC555
07th Oct 2019 11:05

"Just when you think HMRC can't possibly get any worse or less competent..."

Who has ever thought that?

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Chris M
By mr. mischief
08th Oct 2019 12:09

Surely Harra's tenure is over by now? 3 days is the absolute max. you'd want him running a bring and buy sale, never mind HMRC.

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