Harra's family are based at Dollingstown in County Down, Northern Ireland. He was educated at Donaghcloney Primary School, Tandragee Junior High School and then Portadown College. He read law at Queen’s University, Belfast and then became an inspector of taxes with the Inland Revenue in 1984.
In January 2009, Harra became Director of Corporation Tax and VAT, and then Director of Personal Tax Customer Operations in March 2011, and Director Personal Tax Operations in October 2011. He was Director-General for Business Tax from 2012 to 2016, when he succeeded Edward Troup as Tax Assurance Commissioner. He became Tax Assurance Commissioner and Director General Customer Strategy and Design in October 2016 and was appointed Second Permanent Secretary at HMRC in November 2017.. He is also a member of the Board of the department.
- Appointment of new Chief Executive
- James to be honoured with Companion of Bath, Portadown Times, 21 February 2015
- Jim to receive Companion of the Bath next month, Lurgan Mail, 28 February 2015
- "HMRC senior staff pay data: September 2014". gov.uk. HM Government. 2014-12-05. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
- "Director-General, Business Tax: Jim Harra". gov.uk. HM Government. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
- Jim Harra appointed as Second Permanent Secretary at HMRC
- "HM Revenue and Customs – HMRC Board". gov.uk. HM Government. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
- "The fraud costing the UK more than £1bn". 27 November 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- Moving forward with Pride, Civil Service Blog, 9 June 2015
- "New Year's Honours lists 2015" (PDF). gov.uk. Cabinet Office and Foreign Office. 2014-12-30. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
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