Our governance

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is a non-ministerial department.

HMRC was established by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act (CRCA) 2005, which gives the legal powers and responsibilities of the department to Commissioners appointed by the Queen.

HMRC’s status as a non-ministerial department is intended to ensure that the administration of the tax system is fair and impartial.

Jon Thompson is the First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive, responsible for delivering the departmental strategy and for the organisation’s performance.

Jim Harra is the Second Permanent Secretary and Deputy Chief Executive, as well as the Tax Assurance Commissioner.

Together with the Executive Committee they are responsible for running HMRC.

We have a Lead Non-Executive, Mervyn Walker, who chairs the HMRC Board.

Together with the Board, the Lead Non-Executive provides challenge and advice to the Permanent Secretaries and the Executive Committee on the design of HMRC’s strategy and on its implementation, including reviewing and challenging performance against the department’s business plan.

HMRC Commissioners

Our Commissioners are responsible for the collection and management of revenue, the enforcement of prohibitions and restrictions and other functions, such as the payment of tax credits. They exercise these functions in the name of the Crown.

The Commissioners are also entitled to appoint officers of Revenue and Customs who must comply with their directions. The way in which the Commissioners conduct their business is governed by the CRCA. Decisions relating to the resolution of our largest and most sensitive cases are decided by three Commissioners, chaired by the Tax Assurance Commissioner.

HMRC currently has 6 Commissioners:

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is the department’s main executive forum and the primary place in which Commissioners make their decisions. Individual committee members have portfolios of responsibility that span each line of HMRC business and corporate service function.

The Executive Committee oversees and assures all of HMRC’s work and is responsible for setting and delivering strategy. It also oversees the department’s performance, both in terms of immediate and future objectives.

Within a dedicated performance hub, displaying performance indicators agreed by the committee, it analyses HMRC performance against targets and considers ways to improve performance in all areas, including both customer service and value for money.

The Executive Committee is additionally supported by 3 sub-committees:

  • Strategy and Design Board
  • Organisational Capabilities Board
  • Strategic Performance and Resources Board

Strategy and Design Committee

The Strategy and Design Committee provides high level oversight and direction of HMRC’s corporate and functional strategies and their implementation across the HMRC Business Framework. It also acts as the corporate design authority that masters HMRC high level design.

Organisational Capabilities Committee

The Organisational Capabilities Committee leads the identification, definition and development of the Organisational Capabilities (human, tangible and intangible) required to fulfil HMRC’s strategic ambitions. The Committee is responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of organisational capabilities.

Strategic Performance and Resources Committee

The Strategic Performance and Resources Committee provides strategic oversight of the resources available to HMRC and strategic performance against the Business Plan. It will provide oversight of key corporate performance, efficiency, and productivity; highlighting opportunities, strategic gaps and issues. It will also oversee the strategic investment process.

HMRC Board

The role of HMRC’s Board is critical to our success as a non-ministerial department. The Board consists of the Lead Non-Executive, the Non-Executive Board Members, the Permanent Secretaries and the Chief Finance Officer as the standing members, with other executives attending as the agenda on risks and decisions dictate.

The Board is chaired by Mervyn Walker, as Lead Non-Executive, and helps to guide the department strategically by drawing upon wide-ranging public and private sector expertise.

The Board provides challenge, advice and assurance to the Permanent Secretaries and the executive team on developing and implementing their strategy, business plan and performance against that plan. The Board is advisory and does not have a role in operational decision-making, tax policy or individual taxpayer matters.

Board membership

The Board is chaired by HMRC’s Lead Non-Executive. It is comprised of some of the members of the Executive Committee and Non-Executives:

Members of the HMRC’s Executive Committe Non-Executive members
Jon Thompson - First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive Mervyn Walker (Lead Non-Executive)
Jim Harra- Second Permanent Secretary and Tax Assurance Commissioner Joanna Baldwin
Ruth Stanier - Director General Customer Strategy and Tax Design John Whiting
Angela MacDonald - Director General Customer Service Simon Ricketts
Penny Ciniewicz - Director General Customer Compliance Alice Maynard
Esther Wallington - Chief People Officer Juliette Scott
Justin Holliday - Chief Finance Officer  
Jacky Wright - Chief Digital and Information Officer  
David Bunting - Interim General Counsel and Solicitor  
Karen Wheeler - Director General Border Delivery Group  
Melissa Tatton - Commissioners and Chief Executive of the Valuation Office Agency  

The Board is assisted by 4 further non-executives who serve on the Board’s committees:

Reporting

The Lead Non-Executive leads an annual evaluation of the performance of the Board.

The department reports on how the Board operates in the Corporate Governance Statement within the annual report and accounts. This includes the attendance record at Board meetings.

Board responsibilities

The Board’s role is to help HMRC deliver its agenda and maximise its performance. The Board provides challenge and assurance to the Permanent Secretaries and Executive Committee on the design of HMRC’s strategy and on its implementation including reviewing and challenging performance against the department’s business plan. Non-Executive Board members provide an external perspective and use their skills and experience to advise the department.

The Board does not have a role in day-to-day operational decision-making, nor in tax policy or individual taxpayer matters.

The Board provides:

  • challenge: reviewing and challenging the department’s business plan and performance against that plan, with particular reference to agreed strategic priorities
  • expertise: providing wider public and private sector expertise to inform the delivery of strategy and to improve HMRC’s performance; It also advises the Chief Executive on senior appointments
  • strategy: assuring that HMRC’s strategic direction is clear and deliverable, taking into account risk and focusing on the long-term success of the Department and value for the taxpayer
  • assurance: providing the Chief Executive, as Principal Accounting Officer, with assurance that the financial statements are factually accurate, that risk management processes are robust, and that control processes across HMRC are strong and appropriate
  • stakeholder views: reflecting the views of HMRC’s external stakeholders; supporting HMRC to develop stakeholder communications plans; and using the cross-government network of Non-Executive directors to bring insight and intelligence to support the Executive Committee in identifying challenges and opportunities

Meetings

The Board meets monthly.

Non-Executive Board members

The non-executives on the Board bring with them a wealth of experience from a range of backgrounds, including data analytics, human resources, IT, accountancy and the tax profession. Their skills and professional background brings an external perspective to the advice the Board gives to help shape strategy and challenge performance.

The Non-Executive Board members were appointed following recruitment exercises held in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance.

Board sub-committees

The Board’s committee structure consists of the Board and 3 supporting committees:

  • People and Nominations Committee
  • Audit and Risk Committee
  • Customer Experience Committee

Work is delegated to Board committees, where smaller groups of non-executives and Executive Committee members can examine issues in more detail and present their findings to the Board for discussion and conclusion.

People, Nominations Committee

The People, Nominations Committee provides advice and scrutiny for the HMRC Board on the development and implementation of the department’s people strategy, the effectiveness of nominations arrangements within HMRC, and HMRC’s ability to meet its legislative responsibilities in relation to its people.

These legislative responsibilities include health and safety, the Equality Act and equal pay opportunities. This committee was renamed from the People, Nominations and Governance Committee in September 2017, after the Board moved oversight of departmental governance issues to the Audit and Risk Committee. The committee is chaired by Mervyn Walker.

The committee provides advice and scrutiny for the Board and Chief Executive on:

  • nominations arrangements within HMRC
  • succession planning for appointments to the Executive Committee and the Board, so it can maintain an appropriate balance of skills and experience
  • the identification and development of leadership capability and high potential across the department
  • the incentive and reward strategy for the department
  • HR support for the department’s strategic direction and key HR performance indicators
  • HMRC’s ability to meet its legislative responsibilities in relation to its people, including health and safety, the Equality Act and equal opportunities

Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee provides assurance to the Board and the Principal Accounting Officer on the accuracy and precision of financial statements and the strength of risk management and control processes across HMRC.

Its scope covers all aspects of HMRC business and aspects relating to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), as escalated. The chair of the Audit and Risk Committee will attend at least one meeting annually of the VOA Audit and Risk Committee.

The committee advises the Board and the Principal Accounting Officer on:

  • assurance processes and actions in relation to management of risks in an HMRC context
  • strategic processes for risk, control and governance of the accounting policies, the accounts, the Tax Assurance Commissioner’s annual report and the annual report of the organisation, including the Resource Accounts, Trust Statement and the National Insurance Fund Accounts
  • recommending follow-up action in response to reviews of processes in settled tax cases
  • the planned activity and results of both internal and external audit
  • the adequacy of management response to issues identified by audit activity
  • when necessary, proposals for tendering audit services from contractors who provide audit services to the department
  • anti-fraud policies, whistleblowing
  • processes and arrangements for special investigations

Customer Experience Committee

The Customer Experience Committee assists the Commissioners of HMRC in their statutory obligation to report annually on the extent to which HMRC has demonstrated the standards of behaviour and values included in ‘Your Charter’ and complies with the legal obligation to periodically review the content.

The purpose of the Committee is to support and challenge ExCom on customer experience-related issues and to help the Department deliver on its strategic objectives.

The committee provides support and challenge by:

  • actively challenging/ supporting HMRC to tackle high level risks to the Department;
  • examining planned changes to ensure that the impact on customers has been sufficiently considered
  • providing advise on how relevant policies, strategies and practices can be improved
  • identifying priority areas in the end-to-end customer experience where improvements are necessary