The Guardian reports that Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the public accounts committee, met with GOD and told him that he had to consider how to bring greater accountability to HMRC's dealings with big business.
Some MPs are now claiming that Hartnett was "out of control", and that there were no effective checks and balances on him in Whitehall or Westminster.
Well, 20/20 hindsight is all very well and dog whistle politicians do rather love to attack wounded animals. However, I would venture to suggest a few points:
1 Hartnett's behaviour, and HMRC's issues, have been widely publicised for a number of years. Were these same MPs all asleep during this period?
2 HMRC is (theoretically) under the control of Parliament. Therefore the failings of HMRC and its senior officers are (when the "final buck is placed upon the table") attributable to our "respected" elected representatives.
3 These elected representatives, who are howling for blood, are the very same people who have devised our "buggers' muddle" of a tax system, merged IR with Customs, ordered the restructuring and cuts within HMRC, appointed people such as Strathie and Hartnett and generally enjoy various tax privileges and avoidance schemes that the rest of us are not privy to.
Hartnett refuses to answer journalists' questions about his arrangements with Vodafone and Goldman, saying that taxpayers' affairs must be confidential.
Hodge on the other hand has said that she wanted O'Donnell to accept that corporations were not entitled to the same privacy rights as individuals.
The public accounts committee also wants HMRC to be accountable to the National Audit Office, and for the NAO to have the right to brief MPs in confidence about controversial decisions. HMRC refuses to give the auditors detailed accounts of big tax disputes, once again citing the need for confidentiality.
As you can see, this is developing into a power struggle between Parliament and HMRC. This is rather ironic, given that HMRC is meant only to be a bureaucratic arm of government responsible for the efficient and cost effective gathering of taxes.
Something, somewhere in the past seems to have given HMRC ambitions above its "position" in the grand scheme of things.
Whatever the outcome of the battle between HMRC and Parliament, Jack's position has become untenable.
All lofty ambitions end one day, shattered and decaying into dust.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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