HMRC calls in pollster

HM Revenue and Customs has brought in Opinion Leader Research (OLR) to consult the public and businesses on how it can make Britain's tax system easier to understand.

‘HMRC is currently reviewing its powers and wants to know what the public and businesses think about which processes should be in place. This is about helping people get their tax right,' said OLR research director Rachel Lopata.

OLR will organise citizens' forums, which comprise discussion groups and questionnaires, as well as workshops involving small-business owners.

They will focus on issues such as whether there should be incentives for people to pay their tax on time, and the public's right to know about the impact of taxation on public services.

Information gleaned from the seminars will be presented to HMRC in a report, which will influence its ‘power review', said Lopata. The newly formed HMRC includes the functions of the now-defunct Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise, and it employs one fifth of the civil service.

This is the third government department to bring in OLR as part of a wider agenda to involve the general public in policy reviews (PRWeek, 3 February).

The Department of Work and Pensions brought in OLR earlier this year to consult on pensions reform. The Department of Health also used OLR last year on its ‘Your health, your care, your say' programme.

The DoH consultation was criticised by a number of newspapers, which questioned whether the Government intended to adopt any of the suggestions.

An HMRC spokeswoman said the consultation was a genuine attempt to take on board the public's opinions.

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