Happy New Year, the start of the New Year is a busy period for agents and for us in HMRC, with the Self Assessment deadline at the end of the month, so 2013 already feels like a distant memory. But, just before the seasonal break, I chaired a meeting that we refer to as ‘the protocol group’. And I think the group and the work it does will be of interest to you.
Your first thought is probably along the lines of, “what is the protocol group?” Well, it’s made up of agent professional body representatives and HMRC colleagues from across different areas of the department. The group looks at the Charter commitment and how this needs to operate as we become more digitally based.
HMRC will be offering customers more and more online and mobile services and tools. More customers will be able to self-serve and may choose to do more for themselves, with or without an agent. Already the authorisation around who does what, and who is copied into what, can be complex in the tri-partite relationship between HMRC, agent and tax-payer. New ways of working may result in more tailored and bespoke relationships and digital technology will help us deliver this.
It is important that all parties understand what they can expect, for example when will we send something (like a reminder) directly to the customer, when will we deal directly with an authorised agent and who gets copied into what. We want transparent and effective relationships but also to avoid deluging agents with information of no value to them.
The group discussed how currently one size does not fit all and certainly won’t in the future with delivery through multiple channels. We agreed we wanted any protocol to be short and flexible. But it may need to cover some difference of approach in different circumstances and some exceptions. Together we will look at how we can understand these complexities and develop proposals through workshops in February and March focusing on
- normal daily business with HMRC in a digital world
- encouraging voluntary compliance
- HMRC compliance interventions
We’ll keep you updated on progress.