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.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Jack Speaks

My thanks to a loyal reader who has sent me the text of an HMRC intranet message posted by Dave "Jack" Hartnett on 13th October.
As far as I can see it's:

- business as usual,
- "nothing to see here", and 
- "what's all the fuss about?"

Oh dear, I really would have hoped for something a little better than this.

"Message from Dave Hartnett: yesterday's Public Accounts Committee hearing 13 October 2011

Yesterday afternoon, I appeared before the Public Accounts Committee to answer questions on HMRC’s 2010-11 accounts.

As you’re probably aware from this morning’s media coverage, most of the meeting was taken up by two issues – taxpayer confidentiality and one of our large business tax settlements.

Given the importance of our work to the UK economy, it’s quite right that we are held to account before Parliament and I want to make two points that are important in this context.

The first is that HMRC does not make ‘sweetheart’ deals with large businesses or anyone else. It is absolutely essential that the public, as well as everyone working here, knows that – which is why I am writing to you now and why we have made this point very strongly to the media.

The second is that we cannot breach taxpayer confidentiality, something which caused the committee great frustration yesterday. Our legal advice is that any official who broke taxpayer confidentiality, whether before a Parliamentary committee or in any other context, could be prosecuted.

That is why I cannot go into more details about the large business tax settlement that was under discussion or even repeat confidential material that is now in the public domain through leaks, save to say that the picture presented in the leaked documents is incomplete and therefore fundamentally flawed. This confidentiality, which Sue Walton wrote to you about yesterday is at the heart of what we do.

I appreciate it’s difficult seeing HMRC getting this kind of treatment in the news again but I want to correct any misconceptions people may have around this, especially given the tone of some of the coverage this morning.

Finally, I want to thank you for all for your professionalism and integrity – I know that upholding taxpayer confidentiality and being even-handed in our work are core values that you maintain every day. We play a valuable role and last year, our combined efforts brought in £468 billion across all taxes and paid out more than £40 billion in benefits and credits – excellent results which have not been reflected in today’s coverage."

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Would a freedom of information request asking for a count of companies that where due to pay more than £9,000,000.00 in interest but didn't be refused?

  2. Anyone out there got a copy of the message on confidentiality from Sue Walton (Who she? Ed.) that Jack refers to in his message to the Commonwealth?

  3. I honestly believe this man is from another planet! This really smacks of Marie Antoinette syndrome (if there is such a thing!) - while staff have to take time out to eat a sandwich this pompous arsehole was dining out with anyone who would foot the bill. The Commons committee have not finished with him yet - if they do their job properly his next letter should be a Dear leslie one.

  4. Anyone that views the PAC in action with their demolition team on 13th may have some trouble squaring the circle with this account.
    I thought the PAC spelt out quite clearly HMRC's legal advisors interpretation as being a balance between taxpayer confidentiality (tp) and public interest and not a 100% force field of tp to hide behind?
    So, if Liam Fox has resigned...

  5. Where has the PAC and TSM scrutiny been for the last 6 years. At least they're deciding to get involved now I suppose. I agree with 18.08. The PAC went to great lengths to establish that the taxpayer confidentiality had a get out to allow parliamentary oversight. So how is Jack able to stonewall. They cannot both be right. Either he can disclose or he cannot. So how does this get resolved?

  6. @14 October 2011 19:11

    Either by an MP using parliamentary privilege (that is of course if the MP actually has facts to back it up) or the IPCC coming in to investigate, which they have been allowed to since 2005 but have only been called in one in my recollection.

  7. @20.27 I've just watched it again and I note this time that it was made clear that the NAO has the power to go in an look at taxpayer files. Will the NAO now go back and investigate the Vodafone and GS deals? They should do. Even if they cannot give details they can report on whether the taxpayer has been screwed over (we know this is true already anyway) and exactly how bad the stench emenating from those files is. I have to say it again - watching Hairnet wriggle through that session leaves a very unsavoury taste.

  8. I'll try and get the Sue Walton statement on Monday, although it will be old news by then, no guarantees.

  9. @20:56

    HMRC will not make it easy for NAO inspecting them again in such detail, citing the debacle that happened in 2007 (datagate e.g. the inception for this very blog and TNT perversely getting an even bigger government contract).

  10. The current Private Eye (#1299) definitely worth a read. Nothing new but it's good to see them starting to really dig in too. They should have a dedicated HMRC column. Does anyone know if they are aware of Ken's site? I assume they must be? I am just surprised they haven't held out HMRC for what it is long before this.

  11. 15:54 Agreed they should be able to dig up enough material on HMRC to start a new magazine for a lifetime, let loose the terror dogs!!!

  12. Shitting Bull says white man speak with forked tongue!
    If you watch the recording you will see the truth.
    Can't wait for the next installment
    and see whether the NAO has the courage of its convictions. You would need to be a pacesetter evangelist to believe that nothing is wrong with HMRC! The NAO needs to go and look not have stones unturned for them, mind you the IPCC would split the whole edifice asunder if they get in there. In fact don't bother with the NAO they wouldn't know a hoodwink if they were joining the ******!
    Perhaps undue ******* influence is back again?

  13. Wow, some conspiracy theories these days, what next whiteboard are a gateway to the next dimension
    or maybe Excom are David Ickes lizard people?

  14. Hartnett "I did not deal with Goldman Sach's tax affairs".

    Clinton: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman".

    Semantics anyone?

  15. What an arrogant horrible man time he paid for his incompetence any other inspector would have lost their job and faced prosecution for this outrage. Through the revolving door ... with a nice fat golden handshake no doubt!

  16. The man is a lying p***k who would sell his own mother if it got him off, but unfortunately its not in the governments interests to haul him over the coals. So yes he will be rewarded for abject failure (like the vast majority of senior civil servants) and pick up his golden pension and be quietly palmed away.

  17. I can't believe this guy has allegedly lied to the PAC and to the employees of HMRC.
    If its true and across such a scale what happens next?
    You can't have the head of the tax system behaving like this surely?

  18. The current eye articles are well worth a read, particularly the "Don't ask, don't tell" one relating to the NAO blinkered approach.
    However the most indicative are the quoted minutes from the Anthony Inglese (HMRC general counsel) meeting. I somehow think that such a legal brain who leads for the Government on professionalism and ethics would be mistaken?

  19. In reply to Anonymous @ 16:29 on 16th October 2011.

    You may not believe it but Hartnett and ExCom continuously lie and plumb new depths of corruption on an alarmingly regular basis.

    Here are just a few snippets from HMRC’s Vision:

    • We will close the tax gap, our customers will feel that the tax system is simple for them and even-handed, and we will be seen as a highly professional and efficient organisation

    • We are passionate in helping those who need it and relentless in pursuing those who bend or break the rules

    • We behave professionally and with integrity

    • We drive continuous improvement in everything we do.

    This applies to 'normal' staff but clearly not to Dave and ExCom.


  20. The Sue Walton message is basically a warning to staff about taxpayer confidentiality and the risk of dismissal and criminal prosecution for anyone who breaks the rules.
    And this is just after a government minister was caught binning confidential papers in a public park instead of using the confidential waste system !!
    I bet he will not be threatened with dismissal or prosecution