"The use of OCR is the issue
I was aware that the reason for not approving a facsimile version was that the form would be OCR processed, and that structurally HMRC have an issue with control over user printed forms for OCR processing, and therefore do not approve printed facsimiles. This is exactly the issue."
But this is still confusing. She then goes on to say:
"By deciding to go down the OCR route - and I agree, if I were at HMRC it would definitely be my answer to processing costs and errors, a decision has been made which has a significant effect on users. The only options for advisers are to file online or to transcribe manually onto HMRC issue forms."
I then spoke with Valerie Murrel who was at a recent HMRC meeting. She believes HMRC is not aware of the growing burden of of bureaucracy as a cost that is becoming increasingly difficult to pass on to clients. Moreover, she says compliance cost is something about which clients are becoming increasingly resentful.
There are problems with this argument. It:
- Ignores the possibility of innovation.
- Assumes the status quo on the part of the profession. This is reactionary.
- Is clear there is a gaping void between HMRC and representatives of the profession and other interested parties.
Here's an alternative view. If you are:
- In the compliance game then your business has to be automated and you must have super slick processes. If not, then you have no chance of making money.
- One of the vast majority of practices where compliance is 70% of your business then great. The other 30% beats the 80/20 Pareto rule. You're already on your way to doing something extraordinary.
- In the second group, you've to do the same as the first group so you're cost profile for the compliance work diminishes and your opportunities to differentiate improve.
That's a different way to look at this.
In the meantime, I want to make it clear that I 100% support anyone who is actively promoting client interests at government level. It is clients who have to comply not us and if the situation reaches a point where they refuse, then government should be aware of that risk.
What I don't support though is a profession that is self-serving to the point of being considered an irrelevancy. That's what's happening at the moment.