Sunday 8 July 2012

The Secrets of The Taxman - #Taxman

On Monday night at 8PM Channel Four Dispatches will screen "The Secrets of The Taxman", an undercover report partly filmed in the Channel Islands which presents new revelations about tax avoidance.

The Mail states that the programme will allege that senior directors of HMRC were connected with companies that may have been involved in limiting tax bills.

The programme will allege that HMRC ethics chief Phil Hodkinson earns more than £125,000 a year from a company based in the tax haven of Guernsey.

John Spence, until recently HMRC's audit committee chief, is the chairman of a major estate agents chain (Spicerhaart) whose staff offered advice on avoiding stamp duty.

HMRC has awarded a contract for collecting millions of pounds of unpaid tax to Apex Credit Management Ltd, a firm owned by a group based in Guernsey.

Hodkinson, who earns £35,000 a year for his part-time job as HMRC’s ethics committee chairman, also works for insurance giant Resolution, which is incorporated in Guernsey.

Hodkinson tells Dispatches:
"As I sit on the board of HMRC, it is especially important to me that the motivation for Resolution being based in Guernsey is not tax avoidance. I have kept HMRC fully informed of my role at Resolution. I am confident my roles do not represent a conflict of interest."
The programme also features footage of two Spicerhaart managers apparently offering to help an undercover reporter with schemes to avoid stamp duty. One is quoted as claiming to have helped millionaires from India and China with stamp-duty avoidance. Another is quoted as saying he could reduce stamp duty on a property purchase by up to 50 per cent.

Spence said:
"The two managers featured in your programme were breaking our rules and the board is acting urgently to ensure any other activity is identified and addressed. There was no conflict of interest between being chairman of Spicerhaart and being a non-executive director of HMRC."
That's not the view of Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee:
"As a board member at HMRC, your prime duty is to collect tax due to the Exchequer and to close down tax avoidance schemes. If he’s chairman of the company, he’s responsible for what happens."
HMRC said:
"HMRC is satisfied none of the issues raised regarding the conduct of our non-executive directors in their external roles represents a conflict of interest. 

These directors bring valuable experience to our board. HMRC is very successful in challenging tax avoidance, protecting billions of pounds for the Exchequer."
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  1. These people make Bob Diamond look honest.

  2. One way or another the truth always gets out, whether it be by accisent or design. The top layers of HMRC has been ledt to its own devices for so long that arrogance and contempt for the law is commonplace.
    I sincerely hope that Margaret Hodge and her colleagues keep the pressure up as the amount yet to come out into the open is massive.
    These incompetents have been allowed to self-police their internal systems for too long and are literally out of control.
    If you think the way they treat the "customer", taxpayer, public or tax professionals is bad, wait until you find out what they have been doing to the staff!

    1. Linkedin, try it, you will be surprised.

    2. Yeah, I'm sure Hodge and Co. are the people to sort it out.

      How quickly we forget.

    3. I agree strongly
      ...staff engagement question?
      There is much more insidious activity in the echelons of this public company. The dirty dealings of the likes of Hartnett et al is just the visible tip of the iceberg. Changes - overdue at the top - seem not to have made a difference. The government department attracts the grubby little school boys like shit on a stick.

  3. Soooooooo.....more private sector bods foisted on HMRC are dodgy?

    Hold the front page.LOL.

    Just waiting for the mouth breathers on here to explain why, as a public sector worker, I am responsible for attempting to fix LIBOR.

    Can't see it myself, but I'm sure it's my fault somewhere down the line....

    1. Re LIBOR fix, there were two stages when the rates were fixed:

      1 Greed by the banks (private sector) in the run up to financial crisis

      2 Fear from Brown of meltdown, hence his little helpers (public sector) pressed for and aided and abetted further fixing of LIBOR

      ie public and private sector worked in cahoots during stage 2.

    2. How nice to be so well informed Ken. Why on earth is anyone arguing about what sort of enquiry to have, when the facts are so well known.....

    3. Do you think there would be an "enquiry" if the establishment could have buried this one beneath a fog of obfuscation and horsewa*k?
      In theory, and in the absence of perjury aassuming the witnesses are on oath, the enquiry should confirm the facts anything else is icing on the cake.
      perhaps it would be better all round if a criminal investigation took place although I can hear the QC's bleating on about how the defendants are unable to obtain a fair trial due to the amount of publicity, tough, fess up and take your punishment!

  4. I can't begin to explain the unbelievable ineptitude of Brown and Blair and their legacy... as you consistently point out Ken, the buck stops with the politicians. How they sleep at night by convincing themselves they 'were doing the right thing' is incomprehensible.

    And paranoid public sector workers with a chip on their shoulder do themselves no favours.

    Nobody 'blames' individual public sector workers, just the system they work in, and mostly have our sympathies... but the whole of HMRC is now an organisation in disrepute – ever heard of that awful word 'brandiing'. HMRC is a 'brand' that needs a total makeover BUT no branding exercise will suceed if the organisation itself is fundamentally flawed. HMRC is fast becoming a dead parrot, a Norwegian Blue!

    1. Paranoid public sector workers.......I refer the right honourable member to Kens comment above..........

      Didn't take long to blame us,did it.

  5. "We are satisifed that we have not seen any evidence of wrongdoing or law-breaking".
    i.e. "We havn't looked and won't be doing so!".

    I think the Linkedin reference earlier is related to the "advertisers" of their skill sets on Linkedin amongst those HMRC managers hoping to be headhunted. LOL!
    Go to Linkedin search and enter a few names, you shouldn't be surprised by the outcomes.
    So, feck off to Borneo if you want to be headhunted, do us all a favour!

    When it all comes out, as it is albeit too slowly, there won't be too many left following the night of the long knives.