Dave Hartnett is the charismatic director general of HM Revenue & Customs. At an Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales event last week he said, according to Accountancy Age:
Tax administrators want advisers to take a deep breath and stop complaining. My colleagues feel oppressed by constant criticism
[E]very country involved in a recent OECD project believed that tax advisers and their actions had an adverse effect on government budgets. Without reservation they think advisers had undermined spending plans by governments.
I agree with both comments. When the profession put more effort into making the tax system work for its clients rather than into breaking it on behalf of a selected few then we'd have better relationships between HMRC and all tax payers, and fewer causes for complaint plus a significant increase in trust all round.
And I think Dave Hartnett is by and large right: the fault has been on the part of the advisers. I had correspondence with one recently who blamed all the faults in the PAYE system on HMRC. When I pointed out that if there were millions of untraceable forms in the PAYE system, all generated by employers then employers might have to take some responsibility for this fact he continued to insist that this was still HMRC's fault. The blinkers were firmly on and he could not for a moment see how the system only works in partnership.
Mind you, if HMRC carry on getting rid of experienced people they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot. This policy is plain straight forward economic madness. Will Alastair Daring have the sense to change it? Partnership requires a relationship of peers who act on the basis of equal competence. HMRC has to be committed to that to make their current policy work, and they're not putting out the signals that this is the case. That worries me.