HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the agency tasked with collecting the money the government declares everyone should pay in tax.
The agency also oversees the payment of some state benefits, such as child benefit, and plays a regulatory role supervising compliance with legislation such as the national minimum wage.
Established in 2005, the department replaced the Inland Revenue and HM Customs.
HMRC still has a split role – with the revenue side collecting tax and the customs dealing with the collection of VAT, fuel duties and other customs duties.
The department reports to a Treasury Minister who sets policy in conjunction with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Another role for HMRC is investigating and prosecuting offenders involved in tax evasion.
HMRC lists the department’s responsibilities as:
- Income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, insurance premium tax, stamp, land and petroleum revenue taxes
- Environmental taxes
- Climate change and aggregates levy and landfill tax
- Value Added Tax (VAT), including import VAT
- Customs duty
- Excise duties
- Trade Statistics
- National Insurance
- Tax Credits
- Child Benefit
- Enforcing the national minimum wage
- Recovering student loan repayments
HMRC’s 300-year history
The Inland Revenue dates back to 1665, when the Board of Taxes was formed to collect a levy to pay from Britain’s war with the Dutch.
The tax was supposed to expire, but has remained in force for more than 300 years.
Other special taxes levied at the start of the Board of Taxes were on windows and dogs.
The Inland Revenue was formed under the Board of The Inland Revenue in 1849.
HMRC works from 541 offices spread across the country. In 2014, the workforce was just over 61,000 and in decline from more than 91,000 in 2005. More job losses are expected as HMRC focuses on technology to speed up tax collection.
A programme of moving services online giving businesses and individuals their own secure account and dashboard illustrating current tax liabilities is planned for implementation before 2020.
HM Customs and Excise (HMCE) was created in 1643 as The Board of Customs, with responsibilities for patrolling borders and collecting duties on goods for export and import.
HMCE even had a fleet of patrol boats employed in inspecting vessels in British territorial waters.