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Ch 4 TV prog tonight - "Catching the tax dodgers"

All taxpayers should watch...

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I've sent an email to all my clients instructing them to watch this or if they cant view at the time then I've given them the link for 'Catch up'. I then intend to use this prog as a basis for why they need Investigation insurance.

Its Channel 4 10pm.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/catching-the-tax-dodgers

I then intend to 

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14th Aug 2017 17:08

The problem with investigation insurance is that the insurers are concerned only with keeping fees - and therefore claims - to a minimum. They don't care about any extra tax the taxpayer pays. Hence their approach is to give HMRC carte blanche to dip into the taxpayer's pocket and refuse to challenge any substantive point.

HMRC love dealing with 'em.

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By NH
to lionofludesch
15th Aug 2017 07:16

Not sure what you mean by this, our insurers (taxwise) have nothing to do with the enquiry, they just cover our fees, we wouldn't be without it

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to lionofludesch
15th Aug 2017 10:03

Sorry lionofludesch, but that is nonsense.

Unless you ask them to deal with the case the insurers never speak to the client or HMRC they simply pay our fees for dealing with the enquiry. In 20 years I have only ever had one case where they said that they would stop paying our fees. It had become obvious to everyone (apart from the client) that it was a real no hoper.

You can ask the insurer to conduct the case, but why would you say no to the fees? I have only once instructed the insurer to deal directly with HMRC. This was for a status enquiry which had got to the "oh no he isn't", "oh yes he is" point. We won that one. The only other time I have used their consultants was for a weird VAT point on listed buildings which looked wrong to me. The consultant looked into it (reporting to me not HMRC) and advised that HMRC were actually correct.

HMRC actually hate investigating clients with insurance as they can't blag an easy settlement on the basis that the tax settlement would be less than the accountant's fee to fight the case.

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to Vaughan Blake1
15th Aug 2017 10:39

Vaughan Blake1 wrote:

Sorry lionofludesch, but that is nonsense.

Nonsense or not, it's my experience. Admittedly from many years ago.

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14th Aug 2017 17:12

I'll watch it, but I fear it may prove to be largely HMRC propaganda. We all know that HMRC are woefully under-resourced, so too many tax dodgers will go untroubled by their ministrations.

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14th Aug 2017 19:07

Thanks Jennifer.

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By mrme89
14th Aug 2017 23:53

I followed the case of Richard Hillgrove at the time and he's nothing but a crook.
I think from a professional point of view, the most shocking thing was that his accountant was dragged through the court and put on the witness stand and questioned about the Suspicious Acitivity Report that they submitted.

Also, his wife came across as incredibly thick in the programme. I'm surprised he let her near the cameras.

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15th Aug 2017 00:13

Good to see a snapshot of the connect system in the piece.

Regards Hillthorpe did he *really* only submit and pay his VAT late? it seems unlikely to wind up in court without any lengthy correspondence.

Edit - it was also pretty grim seeing the husband and wife necking at their party.

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to Kim Jong Un's Hair
15th Aug 2017 08:38

Kim Jong Un's Hair wrote:

Good to see a snapshot of the connect system in the piece.

Regards Hillthorpe did he *really* only submit and pay his VAT late? it seems unlikely to wind up in court without any lengthy correspondence.

Edit - it was also pretty grim seeing the husband and wife necking at their party.

I thought so too. Maybe the SAR made threw up a red flag. But at the same time it looked like they had the money to pay it, he just decided not to.

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to thestudyman
15th Aug 2017 10:35

thestudyman wrote:
Maybe the SAR made threw up a red flag. But at the same time it looked like they had the money to pay it, he just decided not to.

Still, paying your tax a bit late isn't my idea of a criminal offence. There was no suggestion that, at the time, he never intended to pay. Albeit that his company went bust.

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15th Aug 2017 07:51

What I thought absolutely shocking (apart from the kiss) was HMRC undermining trust in the profession saying that they had received a SAR from Richard Hillgrove's accountant. This is of course factual incorrect.

ICAEW should be making representations at the highest level of HMRC that this is unacceptable. There is no doubt HMRC had editorial control and this should not have been said.

Does it amount to tipping off from HMRC on a wholesale basis to every viewer?

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By RedFive
to North East Accountant
15th Aug 2017 09:41

North East Accountant wrote:

What I thought absolutely shocking (apart from the kiss) was HMRC undermining trust in the profession saying that they had received a SAR from Richard Hillgrove's accountant. This is of course factual incorrect.

ICAEW should be making representations at the highest level of HMRC that this is unacceptable. There is no doubt HMRC had editorial control and this should not have been said.

Does it amount to tipping off from HMRC on a wholesale basis to every viewer?

^^^^this^^^^

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15th Aug 2017 08:24

Watching on CatchUp; the ads started with 'Paranoid' by Black Sabbath.
Does that mean anything?

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to leshoward
15th Aug 2017 10:31

leshoward wrote:

Watching on CatchUp; the ads started with 'Paranoid' by Black Sabbath.
Does that mean anything?

Marvellous. Proper headbanging stuff.

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to leshoward
15th Aug 2017 13:13

leshoward wrote:
Does that mean anything?


...or is it an example for the Private Eye 'Malgorithms' column.

Was it worth the watch? I recorded it for later, past my bedtime.

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By DJKL
to Paul D Utherone
16th Aug 2017 12:32

If the ads following after had also somehow featured "I think I'm paranoid "by Garbage you might be on to something.

Have to give Shirley a mention, out of Stockbridge/ Comely Bank, Edinburgh ,as am I, went to same school as me ( six years behind ) and I believe she drank underage in the Stockbridge hotel where I worked up to 1984, so I may have served her-also stellar member of the Mackenzies, one of the best 80s live bands from Edinburgh (well technically Bathgate)

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17th Aug 2017 11:12

Yes; it was not clear why HMRC went for the VAT bloke so hard (SWAT like). They would normally go for an evasion penalty like in the link below for such cases:

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/TC/2014/TC03887.html

If you're an accountant, it's a different matter though. See:

https://www.cchdaily.co.uk/accountant-jailed-ps350k-vat-fraud?utm_campai...

What I don't understand is why HMRC gives landlord tax evaders an easy time. See:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/aug/13/half-of-landlords-in-on...

Or why was this guy was not busted?

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/property-solicitor-banned-for-avoiding...

There seems no rhyme or reason here. However, in the last above case it seems that "bad guesses" in tax forms are a good defence against an allegation of fraud. See similar here:

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC/2017/329.html

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By Locutus
15th Aug 2017 11:48

I had and still have no sympathy for Richard Hillgrove.

He wasn't hounded through the courts for being a few days late with his VAT return, as he implied.

He had the money to pay the taxes due, but chose to spend that tax money on a frivolous lifestyle.

The programme ended with the comment that his company still owed £97k in taxes when it went bankrupt in 2015.

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to Locutus
15th Aug 2017 12:04

Fair enough, but on that basis you and those like you should be equally gnashing your teeth re those 1000s of landlord tax evaders, yet HMRC almost absolves them from any blame per the examples in the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/let-property-campaign-case-st...

Why the difference?

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By Locutus
to Justin Bryant
15th Aug 2017 12:55

HMRC generally don't prosecute tax evaders, if they come forward to settle their affairs.

In some cases, they even try to make it easy by setting up facilities to report the unpaid tax and pay a reduced penalty, such as in the link you provide. Criminal court proceedings are time-consuming and expensive, hence HMRC understandably try to keep these to a minimum.

Richard Hillgrove never came forward with anything. He just carried on doing what he was doing until he was stopped. Hence the criminal prosecution.

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to Locutus
15th Aug 2017 13:09

But that does not answer my question does it? There are 1000s of landlord tax evaders per the link below who clearly just carry on evading their tax and there seems no difference to me apart from how they are treated by HMRC and others like yourself:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-landlords-avoid-ta...

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By Locutus
to Justin Bryant
15th Aug 2017 14:22

I don't know. Ask HMRC.

But you just won't get 13,000 landlords dragged through the courts, as there aren't enough tax inspectors and it would probably cost HMRC more to prosecute them than the tax generated.

As I understand it, HMRC only prosecute a couple of hundred or so tax evaders every year.

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to Locutus
15th Aug 2017 14:06

So this just begs the question why single out that VAT bloke in last night's programme, assuming you consider him no worse than the 1000s of landlord tax evaders?

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to Justin Bryant
15th Aug 2017 15:15

Justin Bryant wrote:

So this just begs the question why single out that VAT bloke in last night's programme, assuming you consider him no worse than the 1000s of landlord tax evaders?

Scale and limited resources I should think.

Say you have a list of debtors in front of you. Two owe you £10,000 each. The rest owe you £100 each. Assuming they are all equally recalcitrant, which are you going to spend time pursuing more? If you will have to spend the same amount of time pursuing a debt regardless, would you not pursue the ones worth more first?

That isn't to say the others are ignored. Single letters from the let property campaign seem to have prompted a whole bunch of landlords to come forward. But, unless HMRC can find a way to prosecute multiple landlords at a time, the costs of prosecution aren't worth it for the amounts involved.

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By NH
to stepurhan
15th Aug 2017 15:23

Besides, how many of these landlords actually make taxable profits?

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to NH
16th Aug 2017 20:00

According to the above press reports, quite a lot.

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to Justin Bryant
17th Aug 2017 08:24

Justin Bryant wrote:

According to the above press reports, quite a lot.

The press don't tend to have a great knowledge of taxation. They seems to constantly think that revenue is somehow profit (see Amazon for example).

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to andyjdicker
17th Aug 2017 13:14

Both press reports specifically refer to tax, not revenue.

It seems that HMRC simply decide to treat certain tax evaders (landlords in particular) with much less severity, possibly for political reasons. They come after property sellers re undeclared CGT per the link below, but I have never seen a press release (in recent times at least) like the one below re a landlord's undeclared income.

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/hm-revenue-customs-hmrc/pressreleases/hamps...

They seem to prosecute about one landlord tax evader per year based on the link below (where even then he was offered CDF) compared to dozens and dozens of other tax evaders.

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/hm-revenue-customs-hmrc/pressreleases/colle...

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By GW
15th Aug 2017 11:52

There were several odd things in the programme:
Richard Hillgrove was presented as being in trouble for reporting a VAT liability late while a quick look on the internet indicates there was a lot more going on.

The emphasis was all if you do anything wrong HMRC will get you, which is probably to be expected in a programme following the criminal investigation team, but does nothing for those struggling to deal with the complications of the tax system.

The programme did nothing to promote the disclosure facilities, instead giving the message “if you attempt to come clean you’ll end up paying more than if you wait to be caught” again what else was going on here?

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to GW
15th Aug 2017 12:06

Agreed. I have never seen a good documentary re tax. They are all either bad or very bad (which is not surprising, as let's face it no one really understands it).

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15th Aug 2017 12:00

Why do people bother watching these crapumentaries, when they could be watching Hasbeens and Wannabees Big Brother?

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to Portia Nina Levin
16th Aug 2017 13:03

Or just ditch the TV like I did 10 years ago. Best move I ever made. Frees up more time for the pub.

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15th Aug 2017 23:10

Jennifer - surely your clients would only be scared into taking up fee protection by watching this stuff, if you thought or "suspected" they were mimicking the situations portrayed?

Regardless, scaring clients into doing something is hardly the best way to run a relationship, they will eventually stop reading your emails and picking up the phone.

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16th Aug 2017 14:11

Seemed like a PR exercise from HMRC as to how they are somehow winning the battle against the fiddlers and rogues.

The guy with the young wife who was messing with his Vat Returns was a case from 2014 so not really current. Also I bet his accountant that issued the MLA report is happy that they confirmed it was him

Also what self respecting smuggler leaves £200k on top of a ceiling tile when he has a safe in the floor. Said ceiling tile was first thing HMRC guy lifted when entering the office all seemed a bit staged.

As for the guy who had defrauded HMRC out of £46.5m he got a decent sentence but be keen to know how much of the £46.5m was recovered from him.

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16th Aug 2017 16:40

I am not sure why no one has picked on the point that the SAR was made by the accountant and the consequences (although some have). I always thought that these were supposed to be kept anonymous. Not only that the poor man was dragged through court for merely carrying out his legal obligation. Has no one considered the reputational damage that this could have done to his practice? Does he have a claim for damages ? Could such action make us cautious about making SARs . Just wondered.

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to The Innkeeper
16th Aug 2017 17:23

It's been mentioned at least twice before.

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16th Aug 2017 18:43

Paul... I was joking...

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to Jennifer Adams
18th Aug 2017 12:21

Aggggghhhh - you could have waited to 1 April, I'm getting on a bit and not as sharp as I was!

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17th Aug 2017 08:45

Well I watched it, and in the main just found it annoying with the mixing of 'Avoidance' and 'Evasion' and bleatings that it "wasn't fair, why don't they catch real criminals" etc etc

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12th Sep 2017 10:17

It was awful!

My partner who is a nurse asked me if it felt like watching a hospital drama eg. Greys Anatomy and as a medical professional you think its not like that in real life?!!

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