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A job to influence the UK payroll profession

By Ian Holloway, head of legislation and compliance at Cintra HR & Payroll Services

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) was established in 2010 as an independent agency of HM Treasury (HMT), with funding shared by HMT and HMRC.

Its objective of reducing tax compliance burdens on both businesses and individual taxpayers has resulted in a number of simplification reviews – for example, on tax reliefs, employee share schemes and employee benefits and expenses. These have all led to legislation changes which, in turn, has meant changes to payroll practices and procedures. The OTS will be placed on a statutory footing courtesy of the Finance Bill 2016.

Following the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, tax director John Whiting OBE was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Shortly after, John announced that he is stepping down from his part-time role there. This will be some time later in 2016, possibly after the OTS has made its submission ahead of Autumn Statement 2016 on its current tax and NICs alignment project.

Speaking to Accountancy Age, John gave a wise quote, in my opinion: “I’m a great believer that people shouldn’t carry on with jobs forever.”

To me, his statement implies that he believes that now is the right time for someone else to pick up and carry the OTS banner for the benefit of the UK payroll profession (not that there has been anything wrong with the way that he has carried it). In a recent conversation, he also said to me: “Like anyone else, I’d like to quit when, well, I wouldn’t say ahead necessarily as that’s for others to judge, but certainly before a point when other people tell me to go!”

More wise words – quit while you’re ahead rather than when the going gets tough! However, I would say that I have never heard anything but praise for the way John presents himself, the objectives of the OTS or that way that he engages with the UK payroll profession.

Therefore, this blog is not about the current alignment project but about John’s successor. HMT issued a press release on 13 June 2016 announcing that the recruitment process has begun. This links to a Cabinet Office description of the role, the requirements and how to apply. This is well-worth reading although, from a UK payroll professional’s perspective, I would like to stress my requirements for the ideal candidate, some of which are included in the description already:

• Have previous hands-on experience of actually processing a payroll and P11Ds (in the 21st century).

• The ability to understand UK payroll professionals and recognise that payroll does not involve simply clicking a button.

• Appreciate that UK payroll processing involves considering the human resources, pensions and finance departments as well.

• Recognise the increasing importance of devolution in the United Kingdom and how this affects all of the above functions. This will be important regardless of whether there is a Brexit or Bremain vote.

• Understand that it is software that makes these things happen in reality. Therefore, the OTS must always engage with software developers and recognise that there will always be a development lead in time

As I have nothing but continued admiration for John and the work of the OTS, his role is going to be a hard one to fill. Is there such a person that fulfils not only government specifications but my wish list as well? If there is, you have until midnight on Thursday 14 July 2016 to apply. The OTS is necessary for UK payroll, pension, HR and software professionals and I am sure that the right person can be guaranteed the right support.

Posted on 15th June 2016 by Jerome Smail

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In which of these areas do you see your payroll career progressing in the future?