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New CIOT President calls for return to ‘healthy tension’ between HMRC and tax bodies

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Talk of a ‘special relationship’ between professional bodies and HMRC is misplaced and there is a need to return to the ‘healthy tension’ that existed 10-20 years ago, Anthony Thomas, the incoming President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, is expected to say tonight at the Institute's AGM.

He will claim that HMRC officials are ‘happy to have closer working when it suits them and to continue to use the scarce and valuable resources of the Institute to fill gaps in their own thinking, while at the same time ignoring some sensible suggestions and recommendations,’ according to an advance copy of the speech passed to Tax Journal.

Thomas has been in practice with the Coventry-based tax advisers Thomas & Company for more than 30 years. ‘As every tax practitioner knows, since the merger of the two revenue departments HMRC has been in a state of constant change, having also embarked on a “modernising” journey,’ he will say. ‘The result has been disastrous in many respects.’

Thomas is expected to argue that ‘ever-increasing powers’ for HMRC are having a worrying impact on trust between the department and the tax profession, and that evidence suggests that ‘on occasions HMRC does not exercise its powers in a fair and proportionate manner.’

The CIOT must attempt to get relationships back on an even keel, Thomas will say. His goal is to ‘try and turn the tide’, and a forthcoming consultation on establishing future relationships between the tax agent community and HMRC will present an opportunity to ‘re-establish trust’.