Taxpayers get their independent referee

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TAXPAYERS now have their first independent arbitrator, Elizabeth Filkin, to resolve grievances with the Inland Revenue. But they should not beat too hasty a path to her door.

Ms Filkin, known officially as the Revenue Adjudicator, will only consider complaints that have not been resolved by the Inland Revenue's existing internal complaints system. The 22 cases that have already reached her office have been referred back to this system.

Complaints about problems arising before 5 April this year will also be excluded, although Ms Filkin said she would not automatically refuse cases that had a history pre-dating the official starting date.

Her brief largely excludes disputes about the size of an individual's tax bill, which hinge on tax law and regulations. These are already dealt with by general or special commissioners.

However, if a taxpayer's bill has simply been miscalculated by the Revenue, Ms Filkin may be able to help.

Ms Filkin will recommend compensation where she thinks it is appropriate.

The position of Inland Revenue Adjudicator was created as part of the Government's programme to improve standards among public services.

Ms Filkin is a former chief executive of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Complaints to the Adjudicator should be addressed to: Revenue Adjudicator's Office, 3rd Floor, Haymarket House, 28 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SP. The telephone number is 071-930 2292.

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