Thursday, December 31, 2009

Balance the books in a fortnight

Union calls for tax hunt

Brown and Cameron tough it out as to who can cut the most tax collectors while the money going missing would pay back QE in a couple of years.

Posted by chrisch @ 09:36 AM (690 views)
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9 thoughts on “Balance the books in a fortnight

  • A union of tax collectors

    It makes every right-thinking person’s blood run cold

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  • only joking

    The Public and Commercial Services Union, for it is they who presumably paid for this press release.

    The first word that came into my head on seeing who theu represent was ‘quango’.

    What do you think, readers?

    * Aviation, including CAA, BAA and NATS
    * Commercial sector group
    * Crown Prosecution Service
    * Culture, media and sport
    * Department for Children, Schools and Families
    * Department for Communities and Local Government
    * Department for Innovation Universities and Skills
    * Department for Transport
    * Department for Work and Pensions
    * Department of Health, and related agencies
    * English Heritage
    * Environment, food and rural affairs
    * Forestry Commission (external website)
    * Government Offices
    * Health and Safety Executive
    * HM Revenue and Customs
    * Home Office
    * Identity and Passport Service
    * Insolvency Service
    * Justice sector
    * Land Registry
    * Learning and Skills Council
    * Metropolitan Police
    * Ministry of Defence
    * Ministry of Justice
    * National Archives
    * National Offender Management Service (NOMS)
    * Office for National Statistics
    * Prison Service
    * Professional managers’ association
    * Public Sector group
    * Regional Development Agencies
    * Revenue and Customs
    * Security Industry Authority (SIA)
    * Support and related grades section
    * The National Archives
    * Welsh Assembly Government and Assembly Commission

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  • “The people who caused this crisis should be made to pay their fair share rather than public services and the people who rely on them.”

    They do have a point there though. No-one complained about the public sector not doing as well as the private sector during the good times.

    As the Japanese might say “jibun no ketsu wa jibun de fuke!” (“If you take a dump, you wipe up after yourself!”).

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  • A few points:
    a) tax avoidance is not illegal, it is merely organising your tax affairs in accordance with the law as written by Parliament. Therefore there is no tax ‘lost’ by such means, as the law specifically allows it.
    b) tax evasion is illegal, always has been. There have been as many ‘crackdowns’ on the black economy as there have been Chancellors. None have ever had much effect, and never will. Best idea is to make income taxes low and simple to pay, and more people will move from the cash economy to the official economy.
    c) uncollected taxes – well that just proves how inefficient the State is, if it can’t even collect those taxes that are due.

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  • The point about avoidance is that it’s OK according to the letter but not the spirit of the law and there is scope to reduce it.

    A lot of the problem of avoided, evaded and uncollected taxes lies with HMRC and the government. HMRC tried to evade a freedom of information request about the amount of tax lost in these ways. Turns out a substantial amount of tax avoidance by big business is officially tolerated. Among the papers HMRC was forced by the information commissioner to release was a letter to Badger warning against any perception of a heavy-handed crackdown on avoidance. Such avoidance, generally not tolerated elsewhere, is seen as business-friendly in the UK. The Public Accounts Committee called on the Treasury to consider how to reduce such avoidance. As for uncollected tax it turns out that £11bn of owed tax may not be collected because of ‘outdated’ IT systems despite the billions thrown at IT suppliers EDS and Fujitsu over the years.

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  • Meant to say – this info is from the current Private Eye.

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  • @ Icarus: what exactly is ‘the spirit of the law’? And who gets to decide what it is? You? Me? HMRC? How about leaving it to Parliament to draft laws that are clear what they wish to happen? And if they mess up and leave a loophole, amend the law to close it. If we go down the route of having to abide by the ‘spirit’ of the law, that way lies dictatorship. Because the law becomes what someone in power says it is, with no comebacks if the decision goes against you.

    Much as I hate lawyers, I’ll take my chances in court with a judge, rather than having some civil servant,or worse still a politician, deciding how much tax I should or should not pay.

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  • The very definition of avoidance rests on the distinction between the spirit and the letter of the law. Dictatorship? Nobody’s saying you have to abide by the spirit of the law – agreed, it’s up to those drafting and administering the law to close loopholes. My point is simply that there is scope to save a lot in avoided taxes if the gap between the spirit and the letter is closed by careful drafting and execution.

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  • The fundamental feature of a successful tax avoidance scheme is not to exploit a ‘loophole’ that the legislation as drafted, allows, but to misrepresent (lie about) what is really happening. Turning to Private Eye (see Icarus above) they have regularly reported upon the ‘Mapeley’ fiasco which is about as good an example of avoidance as is available. Mapeley ‘bought’ the offices of HMRC promising to maintain those offices in return for the rent paid by HMRC, Mapeley then ‘established’ itself in the Channel Islands, any income generated by Mapeley in the Channel Islands is therefore not UK taxable income. The reality is that a UK company provides property and services in the UK, but it has an address on a piece of paper that says that the supplies are to and from CI.

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