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MPs call on HMRC to ‘name and shame’ tax avoiders

HMRC Letter 480

An influential group of MPs has called on HMRC to “name and shame” those who use aggressive tax avoidance scheme in a damning report published today.

The Public Accounts Committee has been investigating tax avoidance over the last few months and quizzing firms such as Google, Starbucks and Amazon on their tax planning.

PAC chair Margaret Hodge says tax avoidance schemes are currently “running rings around” HMRC, with the “die loaded in their favour”.

She says: “There is 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 publicly name and shame those who sell or use tax avoidance schemes in order to discourage such activity. With at least £5bn lost to tax avoidance each year, HMRC has got to get much more robust in its approach.”


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There are 24 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Tax aviodance is legal so why name and shame. Will they also name and shame everyone who has an ISA or contributes to pension?

  2. About time MP’s were named and shamed for complete hypocrisy, fiddling expenses and malfeasance in public office. Oh and for being completely crass and stupid.

  3. “No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer’s pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue.”
    Lord Clyde, 1929

  4. Is it just me, or do others practically foam at the mouth at this level of unbelievable hypocrisy?
    1. 600 of the most venal and bent individuals in the country are getting on their high moral horse whilst still diddling their expenses like mad, not cleaning their own stable and pushing for an unbelievable rise in their already far too high remuneration.
    2. Complete denial of the fact that the loopholes which may exist are entirely their own fault, for not drafting and enacting suitable legislation.
    3. Completely ignoring the fact that tax avoidance is perfectly legal – it is evasion that is illegal.
    4. An inability to recognise the correlation between taxes which are too high and the level of avoidance. Just look at where tax freedom day falls. Before long it will be 22nd of December! Reduce the tax and make avoidance less worthwhile; this has been shown to increase the tax trawl. (Take lessons from Maggie).
    5. If the Treasury is short of money – cut expenditure. Anyway most of what you receive is wasted.
    Personally I think a prolonged period of silence from these clots would be most welcome. For my part I shall show my distain by going out of my way to support Starbucks, Amazon and Google.

  5. I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Harry and having nothing more to add… time to check my temperature and wrap a cold towel round my head…

  6. are they going to name themselves as dodgers?? sure every MP in the land is exempt from the pension lifetime allowance and is therefore a tax dodger.

  7. Would not publicising personal data about an activity which, at the time it was done, was perfectly legal be a breach of the Data Protection Act?

  8. Harry, I think it’s time you retired. What a ridiculous comment.

  9. Steve
    What is ridiculous about Harry`s comments ? Perhaps you could enlighten us all and explain why you believe that to be the case.

  10. Harry is perfectly right. It is their responsiblity to produce a system that is fair to all citizens – if they can’t do it, perhaps they should consider their position.
    It is probably a breach of human rights anyway to try to smear people for behaving in a completely legal fashion, so it’s unlikely to happen. Just a gush of hot air from the committee instead of any realistic proposals

  11. Hi – I share Steve Barrett’s view on Harry. You also have certain HMRC officers acting rogue and destroying evidence in their possession that would allow taxpayers to defend themselves from the HMRC’s accusations of wrong doing in Court. Some of these people are acting like thieves in the night and unless a light in shone on them, then they will carry on. Why is HMRC trying to ‘fit people up’? Why is this acceptable? If politicians and HMRC officials wish to start the firing gun on this, be careful for what you receive.

  12. Harry Katz has said it all – our politicans are incompetent – at best mediocre – and are not fit for purpose; most money collected in tax is wasted by them – far better to avoid tax and support responsible charities

  13. Our politicians have found it impossible over the decades to balance the books, hence the £1.12Tn national debt.

    Let us be clear, they ran up this debt (aside from the £150Bn bank bailout) because, fundamentally, they promised the people money they simply did not have, so they borrowed it.

    Everything that has gone wrong is the fault of weak politicians who could not be honest with the electorate.

    Now the days of reckoning are approaching because there will be consequences arising from this tsunami of Government debt.

  14. Every citizen of GB has a moral responsibility to pay no more tax than they have to, should or than HMRC deserve.

    This will put more money in people’s pockets and they may spend more (pay more VAT) and perhaps, just perhaps, even get the economy going again.

    Simplicity of thinking at it’s best.

  15. To Steve with a B from Steve without a B!

    Don’t put a one-liner sound bite insult out there without qualifying it! Harry’s comments are always thorough and reasoned in their delivery and I find myself once agreeing with his observations.

    If you do not plan your tax affairs, you WILL suffer accordingly, no question!

  16. The tax system is broken and the MP’s in question should stop playing the blame game and get on with the job of introducing a fairer more simplistic system.
    Completely agree it is moronic to attack a company for acting properly.

  17. Here’s an interesting, yet controversial, thought – how about simply having a system with a purchase tax of say 15% and a sales tax of 15%, nothing else …

    No allowances, no transaitional reliefs/periods, zippo!!

    So we would have:

    (a) No pointless arguing about tax avoidance schemes

    (b) No need to name-and-shame companies and/or celebrities for tax-dodging.

    (c) If you buy a Mars bar (other makes of confectionary are available – sorry, compliance dept!) for £1, you pay 15p. Or if you bought a £100m mansion, ou pay £15m. Simplz. Which would seem a lot fairer …

    (d) Very short Budgets – the Chancellor would say that the purchase/sales tax is going up/down by x%.

    (e) Fewer HMRC tax staff req’d – so a lesser pension burden!! (after all, it’s the largest contributor to our £mega-trillion UK plc debt)

    (f) No need to complete a Tax Return!!

    (g) No absurd Accountants/Tax Advisers fees

    (h) No dedicated tax-avoidance scheme depts at any Big4 or Banks

    (i) No bickering over IHT or CGT rates/reliefs

    (j) No need for J01/J02 or AF1 exams!!

    (k) …

    Oh, the list in endless!!

    Are you with me folks?? 🙂

  18. (tic)

    If I get enough votes for my “controversial policy”, all IFAs will qualify for a 1% discount!!

    Now, where’s my mandate/crown/robes/straight-jacket …


  19. Totally agree with Harry,

    The blame game is a very labour thing to do. Blame the rich for the problems of the poor, while the poor want the things the rich have but don’t want to work for them.

    I discussed the starbucks issue with some friends who were boycotting. I asked why and they said they didn’t pay tax. I asked if they had ISAs etc and they said yes. So I asked why they used ISAs and not a savings account etc. Because they didn’t pay tax…. now they use starbucks again!

  20. peter turner & Harry beat me to it.
    reference is being made to ltd companies on the whole who are not oaying much tax. their accounts are in thge pubkiuc domain via companies houyse, so why not have a database of company tax paid bands. individuaks coukd volu teer to put their owsn trax oaid in a band publicky and then we couikd decide whether to deal with them or NOT.

  21. This is a breach of human rights and possibly the data protection act and they are encouraging against individuals that are carrying out a perfectly legal activity (whether you agree with it or not).

    Maybe we should also name and shame all of those on benefits as well?

    And yet the human rights of criminals are upheld by our courts.

  22. I’m all for naming and shaming as long as they start with politicians, HMRC senior staff, judges, and accountants.

    The fact is that our tax system is so complicated that it allows clever people to exploit it. It also allows crooks who claim that things are tax efficient when in fact they are not as we have now seen from a number of scams aimed at individuals and companies who are so greedy to avoid tax, only to find out that the scheme that they invested in did not do what it said on the tin.

    If tax evasion/avoidance is to be clamped down on then the tax system needs to be simplified and HMRC given the resources to take individuals and companies to court when necessary.

    After all taxation should not be voluntary at present it is!

  23. Simple Truth says :

    “The fact is that our tax system is so complicated that it allows clever people to exploit it. “.

    That reminds me of something very similar :

    “The legal system is for the plebs to obey and for sophisticated people to use as a tool to further their own ends”.

    In both cases, the everyday people (99%) are exploited and the sophisticated (1%) are the exploiters.

  24. Well said Harry! Having watched some of the committees interviewing on this, the ignorance of the committee members was amazing. They are so inept, they’ve resulted to ‘naming and shaming’ individuals who abide by the law, pathetic! Long live tax avoidance if nothing less than to limit the budgets of these idiots!

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