HMRC has announced new governance arrangements for significant tax settlements.

The creation of a new Assurance Commissioner role is designed to ensure that there will be closer scrutiny by HMRC’s Board over large tax disputes. This follows recommendations made by the House of Common’s Public Accounts Committee’s enquiry into “sweetheart deals” agreed by HMRC’s Dave Hartnett and large business.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed HMRC’s announcement CIOT President, Anthony Thomas, commented:

“This is all very welcome news. For the tax system to operate effectively, there must be mutual trust between taxpayers, the tax profession and HMRC. That trust has been severely dented in recent times. A major factor has been the perception that HMRC treats big business more favourably than small firms and ordinary taxpayers.

“The CIOT has long said that HMRC’s governance needs to improve. Our argument is that HMRC would benefit from the appointment of more board-level executive and non-executive members with deep operational tax experience.

“These moves will make a real difference to the transparency around settling major disputes – and increasing transparency will increase trust. Hopefully this will be followed by improvements to HMRC’s communications, which would also contribute markedly to improving understanding and hence trust.”