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HMRC seeks new chair as pandemic takes priority

HMRC is close to appointing a new chairman as the group looks to shift its focus away from “launching new tax probes”  and towards tackling Covid-19 uncertainty. 

According to Sky News, interviews will take place this month with a shortlist of candidates already chosen to replace Mervyn Walker, who has fronted HMRC’s board since 2017.

Walker’s decision to retire from the customs group comes as the board attempts to reshift its focus towards “implementing the government’s economic and emergency plans”. 

Just last week, HMRC increased the threshold for paying tax liabilities to £30K for Self Assessment customers to help ease the financial burden they may be experiencing due to the Covid-19  pandemic.

Reports suggest that Odgers Berndtson, the headhunter handling the recruitment process, has contacted a number of FTSE-100 company chairs to see their interest in the job, it is understood that several of the offerees have already declined the approach.  

This is the latest senior management change to affect the HMRC, as earlier this year former boss, Sir Jon Thompson left to become chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council.

HMRC chief executive Jim Harra told Sky News: “Mr Walker has had a tremendous influence on the strategic direction of HMRC throughout his time with us”.

He added: “[The department] has engaged in a major programme of transformation to execute on its strategy for becoming a modern, trusted tax and customs authority”.

A date has not yet been confirmed for when the new chair will be announced. 

Accountancy today has contacted HMRC for comment. 

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