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.
"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.Join the discussion on Twitter via #Taxman
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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