Anne Wright, Tax Manager at Ensors, was one of only 20 tax practitioners and 5 senior HMRC officials personally invited to attend a roundtable discussion at number 11 Downing Street recently.
The discussion was facilitated by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms, and focused upon tax issues for the SME community. Stephen opened the meeting by saying that creating a tax system that was ‘better for business’ meant improving administration as well as tax law and to do that the Government needed to enlist the help of the tax profession. HMRC’s business tax focus has recently been on large business and they now wanted to do the same for smaller businesses.
In preparation for the discussion, a series of questions were distributed to the tax practitioners. These focused upon finding out what the tax practitioners, and the businesses they act for, thought about the service they currently received from HMRC, how it could be improved and what might be introduced to make the service better.
Areas where HMRC received praise included the Business Payment Support Service, dedicated and specialist helplines and the new agent account managers. HMRC acknowledged that the start of a business was a critical moment and the more the path into the tax system could be smoothed, the better. Following this discussion, there was considerable support among the tax practitioners for merging income tax and National Insurance in order to reduce complexity.
Anne Wright, the only invitee from the East Anglia region, said “I was very honoured to receive the invitation to attend this event. It is the first time this sort of discussion has taken place and it was refreshing to be asked our views.”