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one for CD....is this a libelous and discriminatory step too far by HMRC ??

If you haven't already have a gander at this link: Tax cheat check-up launched.

As from what I can see this appears to have no statutory basis over and above HMRCs normal powers am I alone in thinking this is all or any of (1) libelous ("tax cheats") (2) blackmail i.e. do what we want or we'll make your life hell (3) contrary to HMRCs continued insistance of a "level playing field" for all taxpayers (4) contrary to the human rights legislation as being blantantly discriminatory against certain taxpayers the previous indiscretions of whom should have no bearing on how they are treated in  future....bit like control orders and suspected terrorists....

and look at the notes to editors about who may be included .... this is not just about the heavy mob and as we all know it is not uncommon to "do a deal" to get rid of HMRCs unwanted but unproved attentions...this means that these cases will now potentially be abused as examples to make the rest toe the line.....

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28th Feb 2011 15:41

Potentially illegal on many levels
They will need to have absolute proof that their target has "deliberately evaded tax" in the past - I would suggest nothing short of a criminal conviction would suffice.The proposals could (and probably would) breach the targets rights under the law on spent convictions. One a conviction is "spent" is is illegal to refer to it, or to use it as an excuse to single out that individual in any way for treatment different to any other person. Even if not spent, the period runs from the date of conviction, so for example, someone sentenced to 2 years imprisonment 8 years ago, would have 2 years left before the conviction was spent (10 years from date of conviction), so, if HMRC subjected him to this 5 year regime, the final 3 years would be in breach of the rehabilitation of offenders act.There are also issues raised by these proposals under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and issues under Artiocle 8 - respect for privare & family life.

In short I look forward to one of their victims taking this to court and claiming substantial damages.

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By pembo
28th Feb 2011 16:00

thanks and may interest you

that this only came to my attention because a friend in another firm rang me when because one of his clients had received such a letter and wanted to know if I'd heard anything about it ....

The clients heinous crime had apparently been settled under the civil rules by CIF not through a criminal prosecution....I'd be inclined to write to HMRC asking (1) what statutory basis this has (2) why they do not think this is contrary to the legislation to which you refer and (3) asking with whom the clients lawyers should correspond when commencing the action to which you refer... 

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28th Feb 2011 16:00

Overkill

Think this might be a bit of a mountain/mole hill thing. 

HMRC are only talking about taking action which is already within their powers.... and to put the press release in different words, they are going to use a taxpayer's compliance history when determining whether to enquire into their tax affairs.  Really, that's no different to what they do already.  Especially for big companies, where HMRC agree a risk plan and "high risk" companies are subject to enquiry every year.

HMRC just want to make it sound more scary, so that taxpayers take note.....

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By pembo
28th Feb 2011 16:16

agree to a point but the trouble with

mountains and molehills is that their perspective tends to depend on what you are and where you're sitting....the press release can also be read as "because you've been naughty in the past we are going to discriminate against you for the sole purpose of being a deterrent to would be indiscretions by other people..."....

I do not agree that this normal risk management but another example of HMRC thinking that they are above the  laws of the land...real thin end of the wedge stuff that could at little cost be easily expanded...

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28th Feb 2011 19:33

Thanks Pembo

For the thread and the link. I found the thread helpful.

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28th Feb 2011 20:59

It would be an act of idiocy on the part of HMRC ...

... to treat a person as innocent, and reduce their risk assessment accordingly, when they have evidence that person persists in deliberately evading complying with their legal duty to declare and pay correct taxes.   

 Of course such people receive more attention.

We will have to wait for the actual programme, rather than listen to the PR, to see the reality of what they attempt.

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28th Feb 2011 22:29

Acts of idiocy
It would be an act of idiocy on the part of HMRC ...... to treat a person as innocent, and reduce their risk assessment accordingly, when they have evidence that person persists in deliberately evading complying with their legal duty to declare and pay correct taxes.    

Posted by Trevor Scott on Mon, 28/02/2011 - 20:59

 

It would be an even greater act of idiocy to embark on a course of conduct which amounted to harassment and a breach of Article 8 HRA without having prima facie proof that the target was indeed a "persistant evader".

Only a conviction by a court of law would consitiue such absolute proof.

The use of the term "persistant" is also interesting, as to be "persistant" their target would have had to have been convicted on several occasions.  I am not pursuaded that a court would view even two convictions as constituting "persistant" - rather the term implies several convictions.  

Also breaching the rules on spent convictions would be an act of extreme idiocy as the revenue officer(s) responsible would be exposed to the possibility (indeed liklihood) of considerable jail sentences.

Of course, the government could pass legislation permitting HMRC to take this action, but, as European Law overrides British law in any matter affecting human rights, that too would be a futile & ultimately expensive excercise.

 

 

 

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Also covered by AccountingWEB.co.uk on Friday 25 Feb

CD already made similar observations on our article HMRC to monitor deliberate defaulters. For once, I don't think I made the headline scandalous enough, but Pembo may have made up for it with his.

Thanks all for the observations and commentary

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By pembo
03rd Mar 2011 14:16

thanks for that

somehow missed that and zilch came up when I first googled and searched this...

With great respect I cannot believe the number of people who appear to be sleepwalking into this ever invasive and illegal approach by HMRC...drip drip drip and then bang suddenly it affects your clients and it matters...

Even last week spoke with HMRC re a client who'd left off some interest a couple of years ago and HMRC had picked it up...had put it to one side pending 31 01 however was expecting the usual informal settlement without penalty under one of the really good intitiatives they have done....no....the inspector read out new guidance that he'd had that day (and was still getting his head around) to say that a 15% penalty was "negotiable" if the client warranted certain undertakings (in on time/not late with payment etc etc) for the next 5 years with the penalty hanging like damacles sword should he err....

The collegue I referred previously is actually taking legal advice in the context of CDs concerns...

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