HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
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, 17 July 2012

Homer Defies PAC

I see that Lin Homer is attempting to defy requests from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to hand over documents detailing tax deals agreed with five large corporations (including Goldman Sachs and Vodafone).

Exaro News reports that Homer has personally rebuffed the request, and insists that taxpayer confidentiality prevents her from showing the documents to the cross-party committee.

Taxpayer confidentiality is, to my view, a principle that should be defended. However, PAC are of the view that it should be dispensed with for these five companies.

PAC held a private session with HMRC chiefs, including Homer, and Sir Andrew Park, the tax judge who had advised the NAO, at the end of last month.

Margaret Hodge told Homer:
Our view is that you do have the discretion – I know that this is contested – and it is also in the public interest, to enable us to have at least the background documents that you gave to the NAO, so that we can understand better the systemic issues that have been of concern to the committee, by looking at the details of the particular cases.

The committee has discussed this, and, of course, we would be happy to look at the documents in confidence, if that is your wish. But we feel that we need access to those papers to do our job properly. 

Are you willing to use your discretion to enable us to hold you to, what I consider to be, proper public account?
Homer replied:
Our duty to taxpayer confidentiality prohibits me from sharing, unless either I do so in pursuit of my function as a commissioner, or there is specific statutory gateway.
The question arises is Homer taking this stand on the genuine basis of the principle of protecting taxpayer confidentiality, or is she using this as an excuse to avoid handing over documents that might embarrass HMRC?

It is not clear cut to my view, and I would welcome views and comments.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Ken,

    There is a comprehensive article (Transparency and Accountability of Tax Administration in the UK: The Nature and Scope of Taxpayer Confidentiality) by the HMRC whistleblower on this issue in the British Tax Review (British Tax Review, Issue 2, pp. 187-225, 2012). If you have access to the Review, it is well worth reading.

    1. you can actually download the paper FOC from

  2. this one will run and run. presumably HMRC will hand over those papers to UK Uncut for the judicial review. i can't see why they can't provide them to Parliament. whatever happened to the supremacy of Parliament?

    1. Nah, you got it all wrong!
      HMRC is not responsible to Parliament it just does what it does, collect and protect the revenue, not!
      Readers will have long ago realised that there is no question of HMRC being brought to account for anything it does or fails to do.
      Also, isn't HMRC proposing to drop taxpayer confidentiality between spouses?

    2. HMRC plays the taxpayer confidentiality when it suits them. Have a look at the website and you'll see loads of press releases naming and shaming benefit cheats. Thet even named and shamed Barclays when Cameron and Osborne wanted to share in the outrage about tax avoidance. But when it comes to dodgy deals, HMRC won't even share documents in confidence with a Parliamentary Committee.

    3. I believe that Hodge, Vaz & Co have seen through the smokescreen of deceit and lies and correctly worked out the relationship between HMRC/NAO and others.
      She is far more tenacious than when she first chaired the PAC and only needs now to work out who the quislings are on the PAC's.
      Just don't believe that the PM or the Chancellor will be moved to do anything about it!

    4. Richard Bacon and Steve Barclay on the PAC are very formidable too. Much of the work they are doing on HMRC - like this IR35 and tax settlements - should properly belong to the Treasury Committee but Andrew Tyrie is useless and hopeless.