The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) is delighted by the news that its Council member and Trustee Yvette Nunn has won the Unsung Hero Award at the Memcom membership excellence awards 2018. This is in recognition of both her outstanding contribution to the ATT and her work for a better tax system.
Yvette has a long history of work in the tax penalties area, working with HMRC on the design of the penalty regime as far back as 2008, when she asked HMRC to introduce the system of suspended penalties. HMRC said that the penalty was to educate and encourage better tax administration and attention to getting tax right. Yvette argued that you can educate without penalty and the suspended penalty system she set out was introduced.
In 2017, her concerns about HMRC’s plan to axe an automatic £100 fine for late self-assessment returns and replace it with a driving licence-style points system was widely reported. Yvette described the proposal as sensible, but called for careful consultation on the detail, as she warned that a points system risked throwing up anomalies with persistent defaulters avoiding a penalty while some more compliant taxpayers incurred one.
Jane Ashton, Executive Director of ATT, said:
“Many taxpayers across the country will have been saved a penalty for a genuine mistake which was never intended to defraud HMRC, due to Yvette’s work. It is reassuring that Yvette continues to work with HMRC on penalties as the tax authority is in the process of introducing a new point based system.
“Yvette has given in excess of 10,000 hours of her time over the last 25 years and over 500 hours in 2017 alone in attending Committee, Steering Group and Trustee meetings and writing tax technical articles, contributing to our media engagement and tax guidance.
“Yvette’s contribution to the tax profession and the Association is truly outstanding and goes above and beyond what could reasonably be expected of a trustee. She is a positive role model to her peers and provides inspiration to those just embarking on a tax career – indeed she has even taught tax to ATT students on a Saturday to help them pass their exams.”
In her role as Technical Steering Group Co-Chair, Yvette has worked tirelessly to increase the range of work the ATT does, such as responding to government consultations on tax changes. She has been instrumental in delaying the onerous effect of Making Tax Digital on small and embryonic businesses, improving the terms of Stamp Duty Land Tax on people moving home and preserving allowances that would have been abolished, such as asbestos removal.
Yvette has written guidance on ‘setting up in practice’, giving a practical and informative guide to anyone either thinking of or who was in the process of setting up a tax practice. This guidance was reproduced on the ATT website.
Yvette is a respected ambassador for the tax profession and a popular media figure, having written articles and appeared as a tax commentator for the trade and national media. An example was her appearance on Radio 4’s popular MoneyBox programme in October 2017. It was a special edition which looked back at the tax system in the past 40 years. Yvette lamented the loss of local tax offices in favour of a ‘faceless’ HMRC organisation. She also spoke about the potential benefits of Making Tax Digital, at the same time as identifying ongoing concerns about HMRC’s proposals and expectations from the project.
Yvette Nunn said:
"I am delighted and surprised to be recognised by Memcom in this way. I would like to thank those who have supported me in my role for the ATT. Special thanks must go to my family who have allowed me to devote so much time and attention over the last 25 years to helping all those affected by tax.
"I would like to make one personal plea, and that is for HMRC to not only say that they appreciate most taxpayers do their best to get their tax right and pay on time, but to actually recognise that fact when penalising innocent taxpayers for non-deliberate mistakes. Taxpayers are not tax advisers, so should not be expected to understand tax law nor the interpretation of the courts in the level of detail required by HMRC. Digital reporting and Apps are not the solution to errors, in some cases they will create them, so HMRC must tread carefully with Making Tax Digital."
The judging panel said:
"The award for Unsung Hero Award for Outstanding Service sponsored by FSCS, recognises someone who has made an outstanding contribution to an organisation for whom they work or the profession they represent. From lobbying and campaigning to the introduction of life-changing quality standards, innovative examinations and courses, ethics or codes of conduct. There was one clear winner for this award who has made a fantastic contribution to the tax profession.”
Notes for editors
- The award ceremony was held on 16 May 2018 at County Hall, London. Jane Ashton collected the award on Yvette’s behalf. More on the awards here.
- Yvette joined the Birmingham Branch Committee as a Technical Officer in 1993. She is the longest serving Council member having served as a member since July 2000 and was the Association’s President from 2013-2014. She has served on the Association’s Membership, Tax Adviser sub-committee, and Technical Steering Group and chaired all these groups. She chaired Membership Committee between 2000 and 2004 and Technical Steering Group between August 2011 and December 2012 and since 2015 has been co-chair of the group. She took over the chair role of the Tax Adviser Sub-committee in 2016. Yvette also represents the Association at meetings with HMRC, HM Treasury and other key stakeholders.