Working Together is a partnership between HMRC and tax agents (and their representative professional bodies).
Its stated purpose and main objectives are to:
- improve communications between HMRC and tax agents
- identify and clarify widespread issues which can be escalated in real time
- help HMRC focus on the best way to help tax agents and their clients
- be open and exchange views on how the tax system works
Lofty ideals, but how realistic is a partnership between HMRC and agents if their day-to-day exchanges are largely adversarial?
If you want to raise an issue with this “partnership” HMRC have published the following alternative approaches:
- If you are a member of the Working Together network:
- once you identify what you believe is a widespread issue, contact your agent network and find out if they are experiencing the same problem
- contact the relevant Specialist Agent Manager (SAM), providing the details, plus supporting evidence
- If you are a member of a Professional Body but not the Working Together network:
- contact your Professional Body representative, providing all the relevant information – you can find their details on the last page of the latest edition of Agent Update
- If you are a member of a Professional Body, but there are currently no contact details listed for this in Agent Update:
- email the Agent Engagement Team mailbox, detailing the problem together with supporting evidence
- If you are not a member of a Professional Body, email the Agent Engagement Team mailbox, detailing the problem together with supporting evidence
Details of the scheme can be accessed at https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/working-together.
Government also consults on a variety of tax issues, particularly, areas for future legislation. Considering the number of tax agents and small businesses in the UK, the actual number of responses to these consultations seems low.
Many agents will no doubt consider that their professional bodies adequately represent their point of view? However, HMRC will always lean towards the fiscal needs of the state, and tax agents, the best interests of their clients. Bringing these “oil and water” considerations together into a Working Together format may be the best collaboration we can achieve. In any event, making no contribution to the debate is rather like toting a bucket of water with holes in it…