Simpler Tax Forms

Simpler Tax Forms for Small Business urged by the Public Accounts Committee

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has called upon Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to simplify tax forms.

Simpler Tax Forms for Small Business urged by the Public Accounts CommitteeThe Committee of MPs, realeasing its 20th report entitled "HM Revenue and Customs: Helping individuals understand and complete their tax forms" calls upon the tax man to simplify tax forms in order to

  1. help the self-employed make their tax returns easier and
  2. cut down on the mistakes made by filling in over-complicated forms.

Incorrectly completed tax forms had cost the treasury around £330 million a year, according to Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Public Acounts Committee.

In addition the committee called for HMRC to meet industry standards on answering calls. In 2006-2007 HMRC answered 72% of calls within 20 seconds but still falls short of the industry benchmark of 80% of calls answered in 20 seconds. However, HMRC had greatly improved their service from the 2005-2006 tax year where only 45% of calls were answered quickly.

Other recommendations from the committe include:

  • Ensuring calls are routed to staff with the appropriate knowledge
  • Improving the friendliness and usability of the HMRC website
  • Opening up channels of communication so HMRC can be more easily contacted via email too
  • Reducing avoidable contact by ensuring sufficient explanation of publicly-available information
  • Improve accessibility to those hard of hearing and the visually impaired
  • Guage the accuracy of the information relayed to the public with "mystery shoppers"
  • Simplify forms & information by ensuring that the language is not over the national average reading age
  • Estimating the amount of overpayments that have been made and not just underpayments.

HMRC has already announced simpler tax forms this year and has been working to improve its online services. The tax form for the country’s 9 million self-assessment taxpayers, was the first form revision since 1997.

This simplified version of the committee’s findings can be read in more detail in their 34 page, 1.4Mb PDF "HM Revenue and Customs: Helping individuals understand and complete their tax forms"

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