HMRC deputy Jim Harra appointed interim chief exec

Harra takes over from Sir Jon Thompson, who has moved to the Financial Reporting Council

Interim chief executive Jim Harra. Photo: HMRC

HM Revenue and Customs has appointed Jim Harra, its deputy chief executive, to lead the tax agency on an interim basis while it recruits a permanent replacement for Sir John Thompson.

Harra, who has been Thompson’s deputy and HMRC’s second permanent secretary since January 2018, will stay in the post “until a permanent appointment is made” to the perm sec-level post, the tax agency announced.

Thompson, who had led the department since April 2016, left on 30 September to head up the Financial Reporting Council as it prepares to transition into the beefed-up and rebranded watchdog the Audit, Governance and Reporting Authority. He announced his departure in July.


Harra’s career began in HMRC’s predecessor, the Inland Revenue as a tax inspector in 1984, and held a number of director-level positions becoming director general for business tax in 2012.

He is also HMRC’s tax assurance commissioner and head of the government’s tax profession. As commissioner, Harra oversees arrangements and governance mechanisms for resolving tax disputes.

As interim chief exec, Harra will act as HMRC’s accounting officer and chair its executive committee. He will be accountable to parliament for the department’s spending and performance, and be responsible for delivering its strategy.

He takes over as HMRC is stepping up its engagement with businesses to encourage them to prepare for a potential no-deal departure from the EU. Last month, Harra wrote to VAT-registered businesses in the UK last month setting out the steps they must take to trade with EU states after Brexit, amid concerns that some will not be ready in time.

The interim appointment was announced just days after the department announced its chief digital officer, Jacky Wright, is to leave the civil service at the end of a two-year secondment to return to Microsoft in the US.

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