Successive governments bravely confront elderly taxpayers, but don’t pursue corporate tax evaders

In similar vein to the Motley Fool in January this year, Sam Dunne reports in more detail that a Money Mail investigation finds that some elderly taxpayers are receiving intimidating letters and unexpected bills from HM Revenue & Customs.

On retirement, many pensioners who have had one income all their working life and had all their tax deducted by their employer, are expected to understand allowances, credits and forms couched in unfamiliar terminology.

One such pensioner contacted us. She has a basic state pension, a separate company pension, a widow’s pension and savings accounts. Though all this information is held by HMRC, and all this income is taxed at source, she still has to fill in a return and this year has been asked to pay £139. This would not be regarded as a large sum in government and corporate circles and she will pay it, lacking the knowledge to understand the reason for this charge and the morale to contend with the department.

Sam Dunne says it is due to HMRC failing to take into account all of a person’s sources of income – so the pensioner pays for the HMRC error?

The widespread closure or staff reductions in excellent local tax offices has made it almost impossible for such people to see an adviser face to face and they are left to make expensive switchboard calls, lucratively prolonged as ‘all our advisers are busy’.

Journalist Ian Birrell summarises:

Tax evasion and avoidance has been estimated to cost the Treasury up to £70 billion each year — only slightly less than the total amount being cut from public spending by the Coalition Government. Tax authorities — so ready to crack down on small business owners or the self-employed — indulge the wealthy with ‘sweetheart deals’.

The country can ill-afford double standards at any time, let alone when public services are under pressure and many families are struggling as the cost of living soars.

He concludes: “We simply cannot afford to live in a nation in which — in the words of an infamous billionaire tax avoider — ‘only the little people pay taxes’ . . . there is something profoundly wrong about wealthy individuals or firms existing in a society and using its services when they do everything possible to avoid paying their fair share of tax.” 

 

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Posted on November 23, 2012, in Civil servants, Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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