My role as HMRC's first Tax Assurance Commissioner is to ensure that Parliament and the public can have confidence in HMRC's work and be satisfied that that our treatment of taxpayers is even-handed and subject to appropriate governance.
We are committed to greater transparency about the way we work, but this must always be subject to our over-riding legal obligation to preserve taxpayer confidentiality. I will not play any role in handling the tax affairs of any specific customer, but will be able to use my position as a Commissioner both to deliver on our commitment to transparency and to ensure the protection of taxpayer confidentiality.
We announced a range of changes in February to improve transparency and strengthen our governance of significant tax disputes.
We promised more transparency about our decision-making processes for tax disputes through a new code of governance. The code of governance (PDF 88K) published today reflects very helpful feedback from our staff and stakeholders on a draft version in July and clarifies some of the terminology and the flow chart from that earlier version.
Our governance is designed to ensure that the decisions we make about resolving tax disputes are consistent with our Litigation and Settlement Strategy. Our processes must be proportionate to the point in dispute and consistent with managing the tax system in a way which is efficient for both taxpayers and for HMRC. We want our governance to support, and not impede, the efficient administration of tax. We aim to make things run as smoothly as possible, without introducing delays, drawing on the best practice we already have. And we will also aim to make clear to customers when there are governance steps to be taken in their case.