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Taxation (Inland Revenue Procedures)

Volume 938: debated on Thursday 10 November 1977

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7.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will review the standard procedures used by the Inland Revenue in its communications with the public regarding tax due for the current year.

Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend's proposals to increase the personal allowances will require many adjustments to PAYE codes and to assessments already made for tax normally falling due on 1st January 1978. The consequential administrative arrangements are being settled.

Is the Chief Secretary aware of a growing tendency on the part of the Revenue very briskly to issue reminder notes couched in almost threatening language, which can be extremely frightening to people living alone, doing their own tax returns and not employing an accountant? Will he look again at the language used by the Inland Revenue in its reminder notices?

I should certainly be very concerned if the language used by the Inland Revenue upset people in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests. If he has any particular examples I shall be glad to receive them.

Arising out of my hon. Friend's Question, will the Chief Secretary say whether the Foreign Secretary's recent speech to the Fabian Society represents Government policy and, if it does, what steps is he taking to simplify the tax system and relieve the burden on the Inland Revenue and on the taxpayer?

Questions of that kind about speeches by my colleagues in the Cabinet should be put to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. But I may say that I found the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, very interesting indeed.