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techUK calls for HMRC to create tax info database


Mark Say Managing Editor

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IT industry association techUK has said HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) should create a comprehensive tax information database as part of its effort to optimise its digital services.

The association has made the point in its submission to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee in response to a call for evidence on HMRC’s customer services.

It said the department’s efforts to optimise its digital services must be done in a way that does not reduce customer service standards, which is the current experience for many tech firms.

The association has stated two key recommendations, one being for HMRC to review the data collected on business taxpayers, including unincorporated, owner managed companies, across all systems to create a comprehensive tax information database.

The second is to train its staff in handling data and store data on taxpayers in a way that is transparent. This would help to reduce the time spent on dealing with issues, which is currently a burden on HMRC and its business customers.

Simplify, don't complicate

“HMRC must aim to simplify, rather than complicate, business process and ensure reasonable implementation periods for new systems,” techUK said. “This includes embracing tax technology, data collection and publication.

“Alongside this, it is crucial for HMRC to consider its human and technological capital for data processing. Clearly communicating to taxpayers how their data will be used when expanding the scope or nature of data collection.”

It added: “HMRC must recognise that digitalisation of process will also take time to get right, where mistakes may be made, and the resource must be in place to amend or support the correction of mistakes.”

techUK reported complaints from its members about their dealings with HMRC, notably that staff on the customer helpline often appear to be poorly trained, there has been inappropriate use of the department’s powers related to research and development claims, and there is a lack of accountability to address issues.

A recent value for money report by the National Audit Office identified problems with the take-up of digital services among HMRC customers and said it is not clear how far and fast digital will reduce demand for telephone and correspondence services.


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