Select Committee on Treasury Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 177 - 179)




  177. Mr Maas, welcome. For the sake of our shorthand writer, would you please introduce yourselves?

  (Mr Maas) Yes. I am Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants' Tax Faculty. I have represented the Tax Faculty on Self Assessment since consultation started in 1993. In my day job I am partner in Blackstone Franks which is a small firm of accountants dealing mainly with small and medium sized businesses. I also give quite a lot of consultancy advice to small firms of accountants. I have quite a broad experience of self-assessment but mainly on the problems that arise, to be fair. People tend not to consult me on what goes right!
  (Ms Monteith) I am technical consultant with the Tax Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. I specialise in personal tax and small business tax; also on employer issues including payroll.

  178. You refer in your memorandum to the system being more efficient and coherent, but one that has created "major practical problems". Very briefly, can you set those out?
  (Mr Maas) Yes. There are really five major problems: firstly, the statements of account, which people find completely unintelligible—even the accountants; the second is the tax return form, which is extremely complicated; the third is the tax calculation guide which runs to 27 pages, and those members of our Committee who have tried to fill it in have always got the wrong answer; the fourth is the processing errors, of which there are an awful lot although, to be fair, probably less now than in the early days; and the fifth really is the Revenue's approach to enquiries, which is much more confrontational than under the old system.

  179. We may want to pick up on some of those. You also say that many of the practical problems derive from the fact that there was not sufficient consultation on the operational procedures adopted by the Revenue. Has this improved now? Are they listening to you?
  (Mr Maas) It has improved a bit but the real problem is that, when self-assessment was introduced, there was a great deal of consultation on the structure of the tax and the draft legislation and the Revenue then instituted their own system, and although over the years they have tinkered with those systems it is obviously very expensive to scrap systems and start again, and they have major resource problems which really prevent them doing that.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 19 June 2002