The AO is the independent watchdog that reviews complaints about mistakes, poor behaviour or delays in service from HMRC. It also covers the work of the Valuation Office Agency.
Because of the sensitivity of the information the AO handles, its management insists that a secure email system is necessary, and HMRC had agreed to fund its development.
When this promise was later withdrawn because of “competing priorities” within HMRC, Nicky Morgan, Chair of the Treasury Committee, wrote expressing the Committee’s dismay. This prompted a U-turn from the Revenue which has now committed to delivering an online complaints facility by autumn at the latest.
In a statement Mrs Morgan said:
“Public-facing services simply have to be digitally accessible these days. Whilst it is astonishing in this day and age to say this, HMRC’s long-overdue commitment to provide a digital channel for the public to contact the AO is welcome.”