Gary Ashford, the newly appointed President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), emphasised the importance of providing adequate resources to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) during his inaugural address. This article explores his key points, including concerns about service levels and the need for sufficient staffing to support taxpayers effectively.


Addressing Service Levels

Ashford defended HMRC, acknowledging the dedicated individuals working there. However, he expressed concern over the inability of taxpayers to obtain timely responses to their queries, which can lead to potential errors. He stressed the necessity of creating a framework that facilitates compliance and highlighted the current challenges faced by taxpayers.

Response from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The CIOT’s call for improved service levels aligns with an open letter sent to the Chancellor before the Spring Budget. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins, responded by apologizing for HMRC’s service levels and attributed the delays to factors such as high volumes of repayment claims, IT issues, and resources diverted for Ukraine visa processing.

Atkins also outlined HMRC’s vision of a digital tax system that promotes accuracy, reduces errors and fraud, and integrates seamlessly with business and personal lives.

CIOT’s Disappointment and Ongoing Concerns

The CIOT expressed disappointment with the Financial Secretary’s response, stating that it did not fully address their concerns. The tax body emphasised that its members continue to face difficulties in making progress and reaching the appropriate HMRC advisors.

Ashford reiterated the significance of service levels and their impact on compliance, business viability, and trust in the tax system.

Adequate Resourcing for HMRC

With his extensive experience at HMRC, Ashford voiced apprehension about the organisation’s rapid pace of digitalisation while simultaneously reducing staffing numbers. He argued that proper resourcing is necessary to meet HMRC’s responsibilities effectively. The CIOT president called upon ministers to allocate sufficient resources to ensure HMRC’s ability to fulfil its duties.

Other Topics Addressed in the Speech

Apart from service levels, Ashford covered several other tax-related subjects in his speech. These included the taxation of crypto assets, tax simplification, regulation of the profession, and the work of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group. He also expressed disapproval of abolishing the Office of Tax Simplification and emphasised the need to recognise the unique nature of crypto assets in terms of taxation. Furthermore, Ashford discussed the role of artificial intelligence in the tax profession and highlighted the importance of adapting to technological advancements.

In a nutshell

Gary Ashford’s maiden speech as the CIOT President emphasised the need for adequate resourcing of HMRC to enhance service levels. His address covered various aspects of taxation and urged the government to address concerns related to digitalisation, tax regulation, and emerging technologies. By prioritising HMRC’s resources and addressing key issues, taxpayers can receive improved support and contribute to a more effective tax system.

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