Parliament’s own website heads the summary of the Committee of Public Accounts report on Revenue and Customs: “HMRC still failing UK taxpayers”.
Its lamentable performance in simple tasks such as answering the telephone is on record and its failure to collect a reasonable amount of offshore tax evaded was published in November. It spoke of 11,000 job cuts since 2010 & 40,000 since 2004. Read the summary by the chair, MP Meg Hillier, here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news-parliament-2015/hmrc-performance-report-published-15-16/
“HMRC must do more to ensure all due tax is paid. The public purse is missing out and taxpayers expect and deserve better.
“We are deeply disappointed at the low number of prosecutions by HMRC for tax evasion. We believe it is important for HMRC to send a clear message to those who seek to evade tax that the penalties will be severe and public. It’s also important that the majority who play by the rules, paying their tax on time and in full, see that those who don’t will face the consequences.
“Tax avoidance also remains a serious concern. Too many avoidance schemes run rings around the taxman, operating legally but gaining advantages never intended by Parliament. If tax law is to be improved then HMRC must as a priority provide Parliament with comprehensive details of avoidance. HMRC must also rapidly improve its customer service, previously described by the PAC as abysmal and now even worse – to the extent it could be considered a genuine threat to tax collection.
“It beggars belief that, having made disappointing progress on tax evasion and avoidance, the taxman also seems incapable of running a satisfactory service for people trying to pay their fair share.”
- Report: HMRCs performance in 2014-15
- Report: HMRCs performance in 2014-15 (PDF)
- Inquiry: Report: HMRCs performance in 2014-15
The FT reports that people of Crickhowell agree: the town’s traders have submitted tax plans to HMRC, using offshore arrangements favoured by multinationals. They hope that their ‘tax rebellion’ will spread to other towns forcing the Government to tackle how Amazon, for example, paid £11.9million tax last year on £5.3billion of UK sales. Their rationale: High street coffee shop owner Steve said: ‘I have always paid every penny of tax I owe, and I don’t object to that. What I object to is paying my full tax when my big name competitors are doing the damnedest to dodge theirs.’
A Lancashire reader writes: ”It would be excellent if donors to foodbanks chose to support local village or high street independents rather than buy their donated food from the large corporates.
“If someone stands to benefit from the purchase of the donated food, let it be the small and medium sized businesses that are of great value, as the money is likely to remain within the community instead of going to wealthy foreign investors like Warren Buffett who always profits from the little man and the poor.
”A PR exercise to boost the sales of the large corporate retailers, one in particular, is under way, as people flock to their stores to spend their money instore while also supporting “the cause” by buying extra items. Of course our favourite retailer – Not – will top up food donations by 30% on 5th & 6th July. Think of what they will earn on the rest of the shopping of the generous customers attracted to the project who may not have shopped there before.
(On the website of one such store we read that, “customers will be given special shopping lists to encourage them to buy everyday food items like cereals, rice, instant coffee, tinned food and sauces. Collections will take place between 9am – 6pm in Tesco stores).
The reader continues:
“I am very wary of the large retailers having such a hold over this project and taking over yet another controlling role giving them even more political sway than they have already.
“This may also provide an over-generous income stream for charity organisers commanding a lucrative salary and the often over-indulgent expenses connected with their work while the front lines are staffed with volunteers”.