After Wossy said his piece about tax dodgers, Alex Brooker asked, “Are we not going to talk about that jacket?”
This is preaching to the converted (obviously) because Vox Political readers all pay their taxes, even those few of you who are actually rich, as currently defined in our society. Right?
It is therefore with a sense of sharing that VP is posting the “Rich people – pay your tax!” rant by Adam Hills (with Alex Brooker, Josh Widdicombe and Jonathan Ross) from last night’s Last Leg.
Please – if you know a rich person and suspect they are avoiding paying their full whack of tax – share this article with them. Ask if they or their family use any of the tax-supported services mentioned in the piece.
Ask them if they want to be followed around by the phrase “Do your bit – don’t be a d*ck!” for the rest of their natural lives.
Here’s the clip:
Sadly it seems the team at The Last Leg has not uploaded the equally excellent comments by David Mitchell (he said that legal loopholes allowing tax avoidance meant the government was “taxing conscience” – the more of a conscience you have, the more you pay – and that isn’t right: “We’re discouraging people from having a conscience by taxing it, & that is f***ing bonkers!”) but it is to be hoped that someone else has recorded them and will share them.
The full episode is (of course) well worth watching and may be seen here.
The message is clear for tax dodgers of any kind: We won’t pay for you any more.
Today Vox Political pointed out that Labour’s Rachel Reeves has hired an advisor from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a foreign-owned company that is already advising the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government, and actually writing laws on tax while helping companies and the very rich to avoid paying it.
It seems clear that she is, as we put it, sleeping with the enemy and it seems likely that this relationship would continue if Labour were to form a government next year – aiding PwC in its aim of being in control, no matter which political party is supported by the people.
Do British people want to live in a corporatocracy like that?
It seems that, if Rachel Reeves has her way, your vote really will count for nothing (who’d have thought she’d be an agent of Lynton Crosby’s ‘They’re all the same’ agenda?) and the corporate bosses will run the country for their own gain and to our detriment.
Alternatively, is it time she received her marching orders and was shipped off to the backbenches, along with her corporate adviser?
Is it time we told Labour that we don’t want to elect another party of corporate lapdogs?
Should we tell Ed Miliband we want him to make his own decisions, untainted by the interests of big businesses that have no intention of helping the poor?
—Putting her foot in it again: Rachel Reeves has a history of stupid decisions. Now she has employed one of the UK’s leading tax avoidance advisors to help her, when we need to END tax avoidance in order to improve the benefits bill.
This is very disturbing, from the new Private Eye (1379):
“Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, is the latest Opposition member to accept help from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
“The management consultant is supplying an analyst to support Reeves from October to January… This suggests that, although Labour has made a lot of noise about the government’s work with unpopular contractors like Atos and A4e, the People’s Party intends to stick with this commercial approach to welfare should it find itself back in power next year.
“PwC is already involved in advising the government on ‘commissioning’ welfare services; and last year Tory employment minister Mark Hoban asked it to help strengthen ‘quality assurance’ in the fitness-to-work tests carried out by Atos [PwC is Hoban’s former employer, implying an inappropriate relationship from the get-go]. This didn’t seem to work, as Atos quit the contract this year after much criticism.
“Reeves’ timing is unfortunate, to say the least. PwC is currently heavily implicated in the latest scandal of big corporations avoiding tax through Luxembourg. Most of the leaked documents show PwC was helping arrange all those tax-free tricks.”
PwC is, along with the rest of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms – Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young – of course, well-known to Vox Political. Along with the others, it has been invited to actually write government legislation on behalf of the Tories and Liberal Democrats – specifically UK law on tax avoidance – while running many tax avoidance schemes.
In a previous article, Vox Political wrote: “The Department for Work and Pensions has employed many private firms; this is the reason that department is haemorrhaging money. There are the work programme provider firms who, as has been revealed in previous blog entries, provide absolutely no useful training and are less likely to find anyone a job than if they carried on by themselves; there are the IT firms currently working on Universal Credit, about which Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith lied to Parliament when he said he was having to write off £34 million of expenditure – the true figure was later revealed to be closer to £161 million, almost five times as much; there are Atos and Capita, and probably other firms that have been hired to carry out so-called ‘work capability assessments’ of people claiming sickness, incapacity and disability benefits, according to a plan that intentionally ignores factual medical evidence and places emphasis on a bogus, tick-box test designed to find ways to cut off their support; and there is Unum Insurance, the criminal American corporation that designed that test, in order to push British workers into buying its bogus insurance policies that work on exactly the same principle – this is theft on a grand scale.”
This blog has warned that the bosses of companies like Unum, Atos and KPMG (and by extension, PwC) were planning to ensure that they would have government contracts, no matter which political party was in office. In effect, Vox Political warned, they would be unelected kings because whatever you decided at the ballot box, they would be in charge.
In another article, Vox Political pointed out that money paid to these companies does not benefit the British economy but goes abroad to their foreign headquarters or parent companies. PwC is part-American-owned.
In October last year, this blog stated that if Rachel Reeves had promised to be as tough on tax dodgers, in her previous job as shadow chief secretary to the treasury, as she promised to be on welfare in her first speech as shadow work and pensions secretary, Labour might have a lot more credibility.
The article said that ensuring we get the money that is currently going unpaid by tax dodgers – who are facilitated by firms like PwC – would ease the benefit bill as it would take up a smaller proportion of the national tax take. And now she is taking advice from PwC.
Maybe someone at PwC read the article and decided to take preventative action.
It seems clear that if Labour has any involvement with this company – or allows it to continue working behind the scenes on government business – it will not be in the public interest, and in fact is highly likely to harm the public good.
So we must ask:
Rachel Reeves, what the blue blazes do you think you are doing?
0sborne has every reason to be red-raced with embarrassment over his pitiful record regarding tax avoidance. Parliament’s public accounts committee has done all the hard work for him and he still can’t put it into practice!
Revenue and Customs bosses, reeling from the broadside they took for claiming the UK’s tax-dodging public enemy number one was a hairdresser from Liverpool, can take no solace from the attitude of Parliament’s own public accounts committee.
Three days before HMRC published its silly little list, the committee called on it to “publically name and shame” all organisations and individuals who sell or use tax avoidance schemes, in order to discourage such activity.
The fact that the organisation has not taken the opportunity to do so serious undermines its position.
Let’s have a look at what the UK Parliament’s website – www.parliament.uk – has to say about the government’s stance, because the criticism is so heavy it’s almost funny:
Tax avoidance—using tax law to gain a tax advantage not intended by Parliament—reduces the money available to fund public services and is completely unfair to the majority who pay the tax due. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) estimates that in 2010-11 the tax gap due to avoidance was £5 billion. HMRC further estimates that the present total tax at risk from avoidance over time is £10.2 billion.
In Australia, promoters have to get clearance for schemes before they introduce them. An advance ruling system of this type could deter contrived avoidance schemes and increase certainty in the tax system. Australia has also introduced powers to fine those who promote schemes that could not reasonably be expected to work or comply with the advance ruling system.
“Promoters of ‘boutique’ tax avoidance schemes like the one brought to our attention by the case of Jimmy Carr, are running rings around HMRC,” said Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee.
“They create schemes which exploit loopholes in legislation or abuse available tax reliefs, such as those intended to encourage investment in British films, and then sign up as many clients as possible, knowing that it will take time for HMRC to change the law and shut the scheme down.
“Their clients can then take advantage of this window of opportunity to make a lot of money at the expense of the taxpayer, while the promoter simply moves on to a new scheme and repeats the process. It is a game of cat and mouse and HMRC is losing.
“It has allowed a system to evolve where the die are loaded in favour of the promoters of tax avoidance schemes. The complexity of tax law creates opportunities for avoidance, there are no penalties to stop people promoting these schemes, and HMRC is ineffective in challenging promoters who are deliberately obstructive or deliberately sell schemes they know do not work. Promoters pocket their fees whether their schemes work or not.
“There is also a lack of transparency that makes it very hard to find out who is involved in marketing or using these schemes. HMRC publicises details of schemes that do not work but does not name the promoters or the clients. We have seen how public anger and consumer pressure can influence large companies, such as Starbucks, to behave more responsibly.
“HMRC should publically name and shame those who sell or use tax avoidance schemes in order to discourage such activity. With at least £5 billion lost to tax avoidance each year, HMRC has got to get much more robust in its approach.
“The requirement that promoters give early notification to HMRC of new schemes has resulted in the swift closure of some. But the Department does not know how many promoters simply choose to ignore the requirement. We are also alarmed to hear that promoters are getting off paying fines for not disclosing their schemes by pleading that, in the opinion of a QC, they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for non-disclosure. HMRC is right to explore how to make it more difficult for this tactic to work.
“The number of cases HMRC takes to court is tiny compared to the overall caseload. It must make use of the additional resources it has been given to act much more urgently to investigate and close down new schemes and to bring more cases to court.
“Since our hearing, the Government has announced that it is consulting on draft rules designed to allow departments to ban tax-avoiding businesses from being awarded government contracts. This is a welcome move but we will want to monitor closely how any such rules are applied in practice.”
I wonder if the rules on banning tax-avoiding businesses from taking up government contracts will ever see the light of day?
It is no surprise at all that the UK has lost its triple-A credit rating from make-it-up-as-you-go Moody’s.
The change has been expected since before Christmas, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. Gideon George Osborne spent the first years of this Parliament using it as a stick to beat Labour – that the UK’s credit rating was the best it could be, thanks to his policies, not theirs.
Like all credit rating agencies, Moody’s is a group of people who meet every so often and decide on particular countries’ scores, based on nothing more concrete than their own personal opinions. They can’t predict the future; they can only react to the present. That’s why they’re dubbed “make-it-up-as-you-go” at the top of this article.
But you can work out what that means, at this moment in time: 0sborne can’t pay his debts.
That’s astonishing. This is the world’s sixth largest economy, according to the International Monetary Fund. We make staggering amounts of money every year, so the operative question now is: Why the blazes can’t he pay his debts?
The answer lies in another story that broke last week – HM Revenue and Customs’ list of tax dodgers.
This is the list compiled by HMRC in response to public outrage against the tax-dodging schemes of large corporations like Starbucks, Amazon, the water companies mentioned in this blog before Christmas, Vodafone, Arcadia group and so on.
Who do you think this list marks out as public enemy number one?
A hairdresser from Liverpool.
Apparently this person was scalped of £17,000 for deliberate default. Others include a knitwear firm, a wine firm and a pipe fitter.
Meanwhile the amount of cash seeded away in offshore tax havens by the UK’s super-rich is estimated at £21 trillion. That’s 21 TRILLION – more than enough to pay all of our debts and put us back into surplus.
There is only one conclusion to be reached: The Chancellor is using the HMRC list to laugh at us. He’s mocking the poor, who have to pay tax no matter what. He’s not going to level the playing field because that would harm his own profits and those of his friends.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is deliberately harming the UK economy.
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