Soft Landings: The inevitable result of poorly drafted law

As I was reviewing all the governments outpourings about the Covid-19 pandemic and the raft of initiatives that they had introduced some of which actually posed more questions than answers my mind drifted to shall we say better times when changes were introduced without the need for lockdowns etc.

New procedures or ways of working were introduced by HMRC with threats of dire consequences for failing to comply and of course monetary penalties featured large in their thinking.

Then as the day of introduction came we were given a new expression to get used to in the world of taxation “soft landing” Its seems that every procedural change of any significance emanating from HMRC ended up with a “soft landing” period of varying timescales. The longest one being I recall 4 years soft landing for following the introduction RTI.

Every announcement of a “Soft landing” was hailed by HMRC as being a help to businesses and or taxpayers., usually with expressions such as “we have listened to concerns raised and as a help to ******* we have introduced a soft landing period wherein fines and penalties will not be levied for failures”

To my mind every single “Soft landing” provision has been enacted not because businesses, taxpayers or accountants for that matter were doing something wrong or were unable to comprehend the change but because they HMRC were unable to deliver their part of the change.

A “Soft landing” is not something that is laudable or worthy of congratulation it is simply an admission of a failure on the part of HMRC to implement the necessary tech changes to make system changes work or to make the changes workable.

There ability to turn an abject failure into a PR exercise painting themselves as caring and considerate to the wishes of the taxpayer community has actually highlighted that the PR department is working at a better level than most other departments.

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