When Gordon Brown is unceremoniously removed from office, at some unspecified date in the future, his lasting legacy that people will remember him by will be the fraud and errors that besmirch the HMRC tax credit system.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee reports today that fraud and error in the tax credit system is costing the taxpayer £1BN per annum.
Yet it seems that HMRC is standing idly by, and not lifting a finger to try to address the systems failings.
The committee says that, despite repeated criticism of the tax credits, HMRC has not yet put any targets in place to bring the level of fraud down.
Edward Leigh sums up the committee's contempt for HMRC:
"The tax credits situation is as serious as ever. HMRC's attempts to bring the system under any measure of control have so far not been crowned with conspicuous success."
Since 2003 £65BN has been paid in tax credits; of this, £6BN was overpaid in the first three years. At the end of 2007 HMRC had recouped £2BN of the overpayment, but written off £700m. It seems that £1.6BN of the £3.3BN outstanding will not be recovered.
To add to HMRC's catalogue of incompetence, the report notes that an estimated £135M a year has not been collected in income tax from 420,000 small pensions.
Brown must be feeling very proud of himself at the moment!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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