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HM Revenue and Customs 2008-09 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Standard Report

“These difficult economic times underline the fundamental importance of an efficient tax system. During the economic downturn, not only is there less tax to collect but the process of collecting that tax is more challenging. It is essential that HM Revenue and Customs actively manages tax debt and takes positive steps to clear processing work on hand so that taxpayers have certainty about their liabilities.”

20 Jul 2009

HM Revenue & Customs: Managing variations in workload

“Peaks in the workload of HM Revenue and Customs push up the cost of running the Department and reduce service quality. By changing the deadlines for tax returns and removing the need for some to be filled in, HMRC has already saved £7 million. By expanding take up of online services further, and helping people avoid unnecessary calls to contact centres, HMRC can reduce costs and provide a better, year-round service.”

15 May 2009

HM Revenue & Customs: Management of Tax Debt

“HMRC has improved the way it manages tax debt. But it has made limited progress in implementing some measures recommended by the Committee of Public Accounts in 2004 that would help it manage the growing level of debt in a more difficult economic climate. To manage tax debt more effectively, HMRC should link different debts owed on each tax by the same taxpayer and prioritise debts which are less likely to be paid without action by the Department.”

20 Nov 2008

HM Revenue & Customs: The Control and Facilitation of Imports

“HMRC has made it easier to import goods into the UK. The lack of information on compliance levels and the declining number of trader audits does however risk diluting the control the Department has over imports. It needs to develop ‘minimum’ levels for checks and trader audits, so that importers pay the right amount of tax and duty, and fully comply with the laws on prohibited and restricted goods.”

7 Nov 2008

HM Revenue & Customs’ transformation programme

“This is an ambitious programme of change with the potential to provide significant benefits in terms of tax yield and improvements for the Department’s customers. To succeed the Department must determine what it expects the programme to achieve with the resources available. It should also establish that the planned benefits are realistic and confirm each year that those achieved are robust.”

18 Jul 2008

HM Revenue & Customs 2007-08 Accounts

“Levels of tax credits error and fraud are significant when compared with the expenditure on the scheme. I have therefore qualified my opinion on the regularity of these payments. HMRC now has a target and has developed a strategy for reducing error and fraud. It will need to monitor how the measures it adopts are contributing to the achievement of the target and to respond effectively.”

“The Department must strike a balance between stopping criminals entering the VAT system and ensuring legitimate traders receive their VAT registrations without delay. Its performance in processing VAT registrations is now operating in line with targets. ”

Notes for Editors

14 Jul 2008

Tackling the hidden economy

“HM Revenue & Customs has experimented with new ways of encouraging people into the formal economy and it is managing to detect more unpaid tax. It could make better use of penalties and secure greater publicity for prosecutions to discourage people from operating in the hidden economy. With well over £1 billion in unpaid tax each year, it is important that the Department becomes more effective in tackling the problem.”

3 Apr 2008

Management of large business corporation tax

“Large businesses are a significant contributor to the UK economy. The recommendations in my report will help the Department manage the risks to Corporation Tax revenues more effectively and work more collaboratively with large businesses. The Department should embed cultural and behavioural changes in the everyday practice of its staff to achieve these aims.”

25 Jul 2007

Vehicle Excise Duty Accounts 2006-07

‘I was concerned last year that the significantly higher rates of VED evasion by motorcyclists might undermine confidence in the DVLA’s enforcement regime. My concern is even stronger this year, given the sharp jump in the evasion by motorcyclists, and by motorists more generally.’

‘It must be brought home to persistent non-payers of VED, whether motorcyclists or car drivers, that they will sooner or later be subject to enforcement action.’

19 Jul 2007

HM Revenue & Customs 2006-07 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Standard Report

On tax credits

“Once again, the levels of claimant error and fraud in the tax credit schemes are unacceptably high. This has led me to qualify my audit opinion on regularity of these payments. It is important that the Department now targets reductions in levels of error and fraud and considers how its compliance teams can engage more widely with tax credit claimants.”

On income tax (PAYE)

“HMRC’s computer systems are no longer well suited to the efficient administration of income tax especially where people have more than one job or change jobs frequently. This has led to employees paying too much or too little tax. HMRC has put in place a number of measures to improve the quality and timeliness of PAYE processing, in advance of its implementation of a new computer solution in 2008. The Department should quantify the success of its measures in reducing levels of error within PAYE.”

On income tax (self-assessment)

“The Department has made good progress in engaging with taxpayers through the internet. However, a million taxpayers still failed to submit their returns by the 31 January deadline. The Department must continue its work to target groups who are more prone to non-compliance, for example those new to self-employment and subcontractors in the construction industry.”

On VAT missing trader fraud

“The Department has strengthened the operational measures it uses to tackle missing trader fraud, and this is to be welcomed. The Council of the EU has approved legislation to allow the Department to apply a reverse charge, which it can apply to criminals trading in goods associated with the fraud, namely mobile phones and computer chips. There is still a significant risk however, that fraudsters will simply switch their trade to other goods not covered by the reverse charge. Missing trader fraud is a major challenge right across the EU. It will need concerted action by all Member States to find a long term solution to this problem.”

12 Jul 2007