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Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Sir Humphrey Speaks UPDATED
For reasons best know to HMRC the UK (unlike other countries) includes a figure for avoidance within the tax gap estimate.
Aside from the fact (cue the usual posts about me talking about straw men) that avoidance is perfectly legal and logical, actually estimating something that is an unknown is somewhat "problematic".
Even "Jack" admitted as such:
"..slightly contentious issue ... what might the intention of Parliament be?"
Anyhoo, ignoring the fact that the figure is wrong (as it contains unknowns) last year's tax gap was allegedly £42BN...or not, as the case may be!
Andrew Tyrie attempted to extract a sensible answer from Jack about the difference between "closing" and "reducing" the tax gap.
Jack, being a true civil servant, spoke in gobbledygook; saying that there had been much debate as to whether ‘close’ meant ‘close so that the door is aligned with the frame’ or ‘the process of closing’.
‘It is the second of those that we’re doing’.
All clear now?
Neither was Tyrie who said:
"Classic Sir Humphrey reply".
Tyrie then moved onto the emotive subject of avoidance, and quite rightly asked:
"Is it right or wrong that individuals and companies should structure their arrangements to minimise tax?"
Hartnett said the answer depended on whether the question was a legal or a moral one. However, he did reluctantly admit that "avoidance is not illegal".
Tyrie rounded off by noting, on the subject of avoidance, that people were being stigmatised "doing something perfectly logical, reasonable and inevitable".
Herein lies the problem, as the above exchanges illustrate, HMRC and Jack have their own agenda. That is all very well if they were a political party, but not acceptable for a government agency.
Watch it here Committee
Tax does have to be taxing.
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