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Accountants could face tax evasion charges

25th Feb 2015
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The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has called for organisations including accountants, to be prosecuted if they facilitate tax evasion by their clients.

The Lib-Dem minister wants to push through new legislation before the general election on 7 May to make the support of tax evasion a specified crime.

But do we actually need more laws in this area?

The Government is proud that is has already changed the tax legislation 42 times since it came into power in 2010 to counteract tax evasion and to discourage tax avoidance. One of the most recent innovations in this area is the Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes (POTAS) rules, which were introduced by Finance Act 2014, Pt 5, Schs 34-36.

In practice the POTAS regime has only just come into effect as guidance on the application of those rules was published on 12 February 2015, although the commencement date for the legislation was 17 July 2014.

The POTAS regime is aimed at tax scheme promoters. These are essentially firms or individuals who are responsible for the design, organisation or management of the tax scheme, or who market the scheme to the client. However, the HMRC guidance is clear that where an adviser offers independent tax advice on a discrete element of the scheme, without knowledge of the whole, that adviser will not be defined as a “promoter”. 

HMRC can issue conduct notices to scheme promoters who meet certain threshold conditions, and to monitor those who breach a conduct notice. There is no right of appeal against a conduct notice, which can last up to two years.

If the conduct notice is breached, HMRC can ask the first tier tribunal to issue a monitoring notice for the scheme promoter. Failure to comply with the conditions of a monitoring notice can generate fine of up to £1m per failure per client. Those subject to a monitoring notice can also be convicted of a criminal offence if they conceal, destroy or dispose of documents.

Most high-street accountants wouldn’t fall into the definition of promoter, but they could be defined as an “intermediary” - someone who sits between the promoter and the client. The guidance says this is someone who “typically provides the client with information and other support in relation to the scheme”.

A promoter who is subject to a conduct notice is required to provide adequate information to an intermediary about tax schemes it promotes. If the promoter fails to provide information to HMRC when requested, HMRC can ask the intermediary to provide that information. Failure to provide information to HMRC can result in penalties. 

So we already have a system that penalises accountants if they get mixed up with tax scheme promoters, and provides criminal sanctions for scheme promoters who break conditions set down by HMRC.

What’s more, as David Winch has pointed out  there are existing offences of “conspiracy to defraud” and “cheating the public revenue”. In addition intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence is already an offence under Part 2, Serious Crime Act 2007.

Rebecca Cave is the author Tax Rates and Tables 2014/15 published by Bloomsbury Professional. 

Replies (35)

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By Jekyll and Hyde
25th Feb 2015 09:38

oh dear really!
perhaps he should focus more on MP'S corruption and public sector fraud as these are bettet election vote winners.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th Feb 2015 09:52

.

Or they could just employ enough tax inspectors such that everyone get a tax inspection every 5-10 years no matter how big or small you are.  Fear factor alone would raise billions, even if each check got next to nothing on the ground. 

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By listerramjet
25th Feb 2015 10:50

absolutely

I think it is important to make this point, loud and clear.  We can all accept that there is an election coming up, and that the lib dems are in desperate need of a lifeboat, but this is ridiculous.

 

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By Eric_Timms
25th Feb 2015 11:03

Accountants could face tax evasion charges

And the policitians have the moral high ground! I don't think so.

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By moneymanager
25th Feb 2015 11:21

Fiddling

Making changes to take at the rate of around once a month might suggest a need for a more radical overhaul. Nobody would accept a car with such defects.

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By lynamn
25th Feb 2015 11:31

Root cause

The most severe penalties should be reserved for the Treasury ministers who created the avoidance opportunities, the departmental officials involved, the MPs who supported the legislation and the Treasury Select Committee members who failed to stop it

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By rota2
25th Feb 2015 12:54

There should be more focus on client tax evasion

Based on my twenty five years experience in practice I have noticed recently there has been a large fall in the number of HMRC enquiries and an increase in clients attempting to evade tax. I conclude that HMRC's policies are insufficient to discourage widespread tax evasion. Also, I suspect less reports to the NCA are being followed up by HMRC.

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Replying to johnhemming:
Wild Billy Hickok
By Wild Billy
25th Feb 2015 13:31

Very odd responses!

Why are we worried about this? If we don't encourage or facilitate tax evasion amongst clients (and I assume we don't) then there is nothing to worry about. As a profession, I think it would be tremendously stupid to resist something that would be seen by the general public as cleaning up those unscrupulous back-room "accountants" or the big boys who help the seriously rich. We have to have more courage and professionalism than resorting to some of the slightly silly comments above. Otherwise we really will be tarred with the same brush. 

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Replying to spilly:
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By listerramjet
26th Feb 2015 13:50

ho hum

@Wild Billy, Read and read again.  You have clearly not understood.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
25th Feb 2015 14:26

Would need clear definition

A new law would appear to be unnecessary for the purpose, as there is plentiful legislation that can already be used. It therefore seems not unreasonable to suggest parliament's time would be better used in other areas.

But given the problems caused by the use of "suspicion" in the MLR, I think the law being unnecessary is the least of our concerns. Facilitating tax evasion needs to be very clearly defined. Without such a clear defintion then saying we have nothing to worry about is being rather naive.

A client fails to tell me of a new source of income, and I submit a return on their behalf that does not include it. A builder client includes receipts for materials used on his own house with his business records. A client provides business mileage figures that exceed his actual business mileage. A client under-records their cash income 

All these things would result in under-payment of tax, and preparing accounts and returns could be considered "facilitating" that under-payment of tax. Unless the amounts involved materially distort the accounts, there may be no way for the accountant to spot these. There comes a point at which we have to accept that, without evidence to the contrary, our client is telling us the truth. Will such innocent accountants be subject to prosecution?

If not, then the unscrupulous accountant probably won't either. Those that actively encourage all these practices simply ensure that such advice is all given in face to face meetings. No paper trail and they can claim to have been innocent as those who genuinely accept figures that later turn out to be false.

So a law that is not required, that is likely to be unworkable if enacted anyway. What a waste of time.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Wild Billy Hickok
By Wild Billy
25th Feb 2015 14:52

False strawman

stepurhan wrote:

A client fails to tell me of a new source of income, and I submit a return on their behalf that does not include it. A builder client includes receipts for materials used on his own house with his business records. A client provides business mileage figures that exceed his actual business mileage. A client under-records their cash income 

All these things would result in under-payment of tax, and preparing accounts and returns could be considered "facilitating" that under-payment of tax. Unless the amounts involved materially distort the accounts, there may be no way for the accountant to spot these. There comes a point at which we have to accept that, without evidence to the contrary, our client is telling us the truth. Will such innocent accountants be subject to prosecution?

But that is a strawman, which clearly is not what is being talked about here. Plainly, that is not the intention in the article nor in what Danny Alexander has said as far as I can tell. It would need a clear definition, yes, but surely we can all support the principle that we shouldn't be actively facilitating or encouraging tax evasion, nor turning a blind eye when we have evidence to the contrary. No-one can disagree with that surely. How you then put that into practice is the next question but I see no reason whatsoever to think that the suggestion above is a genuine concern at this point.

 

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
25th Feb 2015 16:43

Clearly?

Wild Billy wrote:
But that is a strawman, which clearly is not what is being talked about here. Plainly, that is not the intention in the article nor in what Danny Alexander has said as far as I can tell. It would need a clear definition, yes, but surely we can all support the principle that we shouldn't be actively facilitating or encouraging tax evasion, nor turning a blind eye when we have evidence to the contrary. No-one can disagree with that surely. How you then put that into practice is the next question but I see no reason whatsoever to think that the suggestion above is a genuine concern at this point.
At what point would it be a genuine concern? This is a piece of legislation that it is proposed to have in place before the election, so in a very short time-scale. Given that, do you not think the risk that "facilitating" will not be adequately defined in the proposed legislation is a very real one? How you put it into practice is not the next question, it is the one that is being asked right now.

By all means demonstrate that a robust definition that will not catch the innocent accountant I posited will be used. If you can do so then I will fully support the proposed legislation, as I don't believe accountants should facilitate tax evasion. Until you are able to do so, please do not dismiss the concern that innocent people could end up prosecuted due to a poorly drawn definition as a strawman argument. Historical miscarriages of justice prove that "the innocent have nothing to fear" is not an accurate statement in the real world.

While you're addressing that point, perhaps you could also address the fact that there appears to be plentiful legislation already that covers the sort of behaviour you are condemning. Given these, could you explain why you think the new law is necessary anyway?

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
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By Springfield
26th Feb 2015 12:02

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or the law of unintended consequences - take your pick.

It won't matter in a few years to an honest "hard-working" (the politicians favourite word)  accountant who is deceived by his client and is caught by some poorly thought out and politically motivated legislation intended to catch a larger and different kind of fish altogether, and who then spends several stressful years trying to prove his innocence.

This is pre-election posturing - pandering to the public with vague but cynical platitudes on tax evasion in order to try and win a few votes.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By andyjdicker
26th Feb 2015 10:36

Difference between accounts and audit.

stepurhan wrote:

All these things would result in under-payment of tax, and preparing accounts and returns could be considered "facilitating" that under-payment of tax. Unless the amounts involved materially distort the accounts, there may be no way for the accountant to spot these. There comes a point at which we have to accept that, without evidence to the contrary, our client is telling us the truth. Will such innocent accountants be subject to prosecution

Well indeed. Accounts prep is not an Audit. That is a fundamental ascept of our work. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the accounts we provide (to a certain point) as we have to rely on information provided by clients, and we have to operate on a certain amount of good faith, not mistrust.

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By Scriptic
25th Feb 2015 14:43

Tax Law is the Heart of the Problem

If Alexander or anyone else wants to clear up tax evasion and aggressive avoidance, radical and root and branch simplification of our arcane tax law is the answer, not more populist rubbish like this from Danny Alexander who in any case is likely to be looking for another job after the election.

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Wild Billy Hickok
By Wild Billy
25th Feb 2015 22:57

I accept

I cannot possibly get hot under the collar about this because:

it is a potential proposal, not (yet or maybe ever) a Government proposalit is a potential proposal that is stated as a policy objective, not a set of rules that can be consideredit is a potential proposal that has a policy objective which s impossible to disagree with; accountants should be prosecuted if they facilitate tax evasion it is a potential policy proposal that follows potential facilitation of tax evasion on the grand scale, not an accountant failing to account for every invoice because the client didn't provide every invoice. 

We would be horribly out of touch if we said we don't agree with the objective and I see that you don't. It would be like a business saying I don't want you to crack down on the businesses not paying the minimum wage even though it is bad for society and bad for my business too because I am being undercut unfairly. 

So the concern, or outright fear I would say, is that this hypothetical legislation is going to be poorly drafted and catch the innocent accountant who unknowingly and unwittingly facilitates the tax evasion of Joe The Plumber. The legislation would have to be spectacularly bad to catch that- almost unimaginably bad- and given issues like burden of proof I really don't see it. I can't come up with something off the top of my head at 11pm but let me see if I can manage it in the next few days. Didn't we have the same fears about DOTAS and the GAAR? It can't possibly be well targeted! It will catch all sorts of very innocent people and schemes! The world has kept turning. .

It is a different question of whether the additional legislation is needed but that is a very different argument. But, remember, we didn't need anymore banking legislation in the 2000s either because we had enough of the right sort of legislation and light-touch regulation was needed or the lights would go out...

As a profession, we should be speaking out in the strongest terms against tax evasion, rather than look like we are self-serving because that is how this will look. 

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Replying to DJKL:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
26th Feb 2015 09:12

Imminent, not potential

Wild Billy wrote:

I cannot possibly get hot under the collar about this because:

it is a potential proposal, not (yet or maybe ever) a Government proposalit is a potential proposal that is stated as a policy objective, not a set of rules that can be consideredit is a potential proposal that has a policy objective which s impossible to disagree with; accountants should be prosecuted if they facilitate tax evasion it is a potential policy proposal that follows potential facilitation of tax evasion on the grand scale, not an accountant failing to account for every invoice because the client didn't provide every invoice.

That's a lot of "potential" there. That makes it sound like this is something a long way in the future. Perhaps you missed this from the article, which I have pointed out several times. (my emboldening)

Article wrote:
The Lib-Dem minister wants to push through new legislation before the general election on 7 May to make the support of tax evasion a specified crime.
So this is not a proposal that will be calmly debated over a long period. This is something that it is being proposed to be law in two months! I would say that the risk of the legislation being poorly drafted if it is to get through the whole legislative process in that time is pretty high.

Yet you are saying that concern that might happen is straw-manning. If I was saying there was a deliberate intention to create a law to catch out innocent people, then you might have a point. But I'm not saying that, I'm saying that a poorly drafted law risks catching such people regardless of the original intention. That is not misrepresenting the position, which is required for a straw-man argument. If you think I otherwise please explain why.

However implying, as you have done, that anyone who opposes this law being rushed through must approve of accountants being able to facilitate tax evasion without fear of prosecution is very much a straw-man argument. You only have to read my previous posts on the subject to see that I am very much in favour of those deliberately setting up schemes that amount to tax evasion being prosecuted. You keep saying it is a policy objective that is impossible to disagree with. I agree with that to a point, but only if "facilitate tax evasion" is clearly defined. You appear to be taking as a given that there will be a clear unambiguous definition despite the fact that said definition has not been written yet.

The matter of existing legislation is also not an irrelevant question. If legislation already exists that allows those who facilitate tax evasion to be prosecuted, why complicate the legal system by creating more unnecessary law? If the proposal was for a law to create a specific crime of "murdering a woman" would we be having the same conversation? Would you be talking about how we must all support such a law, because surely opposing woman murder is something we should all agree on. Or would you be asking if there is a reason why women murderers are not being prosecuted under the already existing law prohibiting murder in general.

I think parliament's time would be far better used examining why the existing legislation isn't being used to prosecute and what can be done about that.

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By listerramjet
26th Feb 2015 13:55

cracking down on tax evasion?

Given that tax evasion is against the law then I can't imagine many that would condone it - perhaps only those foolish enough to try it on.  But the phrase "crackdown" is surely about detecting and prosecuting.  As the original article says, there is already legislation for all of this. The arguments put forward by Alexander and his ilk are merely posturing.  We should all be worried if those that make the laws have this little understanding of the laws they have made.  There is nothing silly about that.

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By AE_
26th Feb 2015 17:39

Posturing and soundbites maybe, but right in principle

Yes, there is posturing and electioneering going on here, but generally I agree with the principle of what he was saying.  I believe all those that have already commented are genuine professionals, so I can't understand why there's so much knicker-knotting going on.

For as long as there's been a tax system, there has been low-level and high-level fiddling going on.  I didn't get any indication from the interview I saw that this legislation would in any way be aimed at your average small firm of accountants or solicitors, with odd clients that might not always declare all their income or claim for personal expenses, whether through honest mistake or otherwise.  What I understood was that those creating and facilitating evasion schemes, be they accountants, solicitors, bankers or others, would face the same sanctions as those evading paying the tax.  Why this isn't the case already I don't know!

As professionals we're supposed to have ethics, standards, we're supposed to be honest, impartial - when I still worked in practice I had to sign a declaration each year to that effect - have those days gone?  Sometimes I wonder.  Though not related to this, Tesco is the most recent example of the shady malaise that afflicts our profession - the auditors must have known, unless they were incompetent.  But what will happen to those 'professionals' involved?  Probably nothing.  It renders what we do pointless, and yet we still charge handsomely for our services.  Make no mistake, as far as the general populous is concerned, episodes like this are why we (accountants) all too often sit in the same dock eating from the same trough as politicians and bankers!  What will happen to the HSBC employees involved in the evasion that started this, probably nothing...

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Replying to frankfx:
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By listerramjet
28th Feb 2015 12:22

do what

@AE_ "those creating and facilitating evasion schemes"????  We call this conspiracy - its a criminal offence.  And I have never come across any professionals involved in such activities, apart from the few instances which usually make the press when the court case concludes.  I think you are mixing up evasion and avoidance.  And what on earth the problems affecting Tesco have got to do with this is beyond me.

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By moneymanager
27th Feb 2015 11:55

Odds on favourite

stepurhan PM | Thu, 26/02/2015 - 09:12

" This is something that it is being proposed to be law in two months! I would say that the risk of the legislation being poorly drafted if it is to get through the whole legislative process in that time is pretty high.

No risk what so ever. If you consider that the reason the tax code is in such a mess already is ill considered, il drafted legislation subsequently reinterpreted by the UK, or now EU, courts it's a dead cert.

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By peterk
27th Feb 2015 16:41

I wouldn't worry...

...he won't have time to get this through before the election and he's a Lib Dem, so he either won't be in power after the election or, if he is, he'll do whatever the main party tells him to!

And it's a bit like the ID card issue, those who abide by the law of the land have (almost) noting to fear.

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By moneymanager
28th Feb 2015 15:42

Out of a job

Danny boy will be looking for new employment if he keeps on talking about Cleggy's Missus' employer like that (partner at lawyers Dechert) she makes £0.5 and the firm is explicit about it's tax planning offering)

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By AE_
02nd Mar 2015 11:04

@listerramjet Nope, definitely talking about evasion - maybe schemes wasn't quite the right word.  I'm assuming HSBC approached these 1000+ wealthy UK clients to deposit their cash in the private bank, or vice versa - if it had been 1 or 2, ok, but 1000+ has the ring of something organised to me, so scheme seemed appropriate at the time.  It was clearly facilitated by HSBC employees either way.

You'll note that I did say in my previous post, "Though not related to this" before mentioning anything to do with Tesco.  Correct me if I'm wrong - their audits were carried out by one of the 'big 4' - supposedly the pinnacle of our profession.  My point is that accountants have as much of an image problem as do bankers and politicians, and some of that seems to me to be due to the fact that 'we' don't whole-heartedly get behind this type of clamp down, whether real or political bluster.

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By listerramjet
02nd Mar 2015 11:47

strange

@AE_  Just to be clear, "depositing cash" in a Swiss private bank is not tax evasion, whether you re wealthy or otherwise.  In what sense do you think it is?  BTW in what sense do you think supporting mob rule will imrpove the image of accountants

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By AE_
02nd Mar 2015 14:02

But when you're concealing assets and/or income it is, right, which it what is alleged was going on...

What mob rule?

The piece is about potential legislation that proposes facilitators face the same financial and other penalties as those committing the actual crime, which I support.  I cannot see any professional, ethical or moral reason not to.

The accountancy profession has a image problem in part because we too often appear to operate out of self-interest - like signing off the audit of a large client that is paying significant fees (but from whom we are supposed to be independent) and it later turns out the figures have been materially misstated, for instance.

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By moneymanager
03rd Mar 2015 12:35

I'm no lawyer

"as those committing the actual crime"

When does acting for an honestly designed arrangement which fails in Court become a crime? If the same case then goes to appeal is the Criminal" suddenly an honest adviser done wrong by HMRC?

I have no truck with intentional dishonesty e.h concealement, deliberate misrrepresentation, etc. but a clear line needs to be drawn and politicians are far too free and ready to muddy those waters for sound bite appeal.

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By listerramjet
03rd Mar 2015 12:35

yes but!

@AE_ "alleged" being the relevant word.  Mob rule in so much as they are all painted as guilty - with politicians fanning the flames to aid their election chances.  And on closer inspection it turns out most aren't doing anything illegal, and those that are have mostly taken advantage of an amnesty, and paid their dues along with interest and penalty.  So it seems most harsh to also pick a fight with HMRC over this, when actually they have on the face of it done what they are charged with doing.

And the potential legislation is worthless - what they are proposing is already against the law. It is a shame that you don't seem to get this simple point.  It also seems clear that you have misunderstood the article.

I don't know that the "accountancy profession" has an image problem, beyond  politicians seeking another target to further an anti-business agenda.  It is easy to single out high profile issues, but on closer inspection the facts never support the headlines.  

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By AE_
03rd Mar 2015 14:31

Long-term goal?

@moneymanager  Wouldn't that honestly designed arrangement be tax avoidance, rather than tax evasion? Final interpretation of the law can only ever be made in court though - good question!

It would be nigh impossible to un-pick the grey blanket of tax law at this stage, or darn all the holes that appear over time through intellectual probing, abuse or just poor drafting. I'm pretty sure any government would be terrified of trying in any case.  So, as I said originally, whilst there is cheap political point-scoring and posturing at work here, if the long term goal is to minimise absolutely the tax lost through avoidance and evasion, even if the method is bullying tax professionals of whatever flavour by saying 'the risks now outweigh the potential gain - are you still willing to take that risk?', then I support it.  Maybe that makes me old-fashioned (at just under 40) or part of the mob that is the public at large, but then I still work with the old 'public interest duty' in mind - "not to benefit any person or persons (including oneself) at the expense of the wider community", so to not support this sort of 'clamping down' would go against my nature and the way I have worked for the past 20 years.

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Replying to Tim Vane:
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By moneymanager
04th Mar 2015 12:37

Innocent before proven

Wouldn't that honestly designed arrangement be tax avoidance, rather than tax evasion?

Yes, but all depending on how desperate the subsequently intervied politico or HMRC spokesperson is for a soundbite. Conflation of the two might win votes from certain sectors of the public but is an unhealthy way to run the Country.

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By listerramjet
04th Mar 2015 12:04

a good point

the "grey blanket of tax law" is a lovely phrase!  I think you are quite correct - impossible to unpick.  As it gets more complex then the number of unintended consequences multiplies, and this is not a linear relationship!

So the policy goal is the good question.  But  is it broken?  We can all agree that it is too complex, and we can all agree that tinkering has never made it simpler. I believe we have an office of tax simplification - and a tax code that grows like topsy - are they delivering value for money?  And we have a clear policy direction - cut back in the tax office, with more focus on automation and targetted policing.  Personally I think that works fine. But there is a cost to the complexity.  Business needs certainty - at the moment we don't have this.  We have companies obeying the law to the best of their abilities, but with their good names dragged through the mud for apparently political reasons, by an opposition that is showing more and more signs of being anti-business.  In an increasingly globally competitive environment this is not good news. Unfortunately Alexander's proposals will do nothing to solve this problem.

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By AE_
09th Mar 2015 12:20

I had to look that one up!

@listerramjet and moneymanager

I had to look that one up! The Office of Tax Simplification... *sigh*  If only!

I fear that neither businesses nor individuals will reap a great deal of certainty from the forthcoming election. What little has been announced or mooted by either of the main parties has largely been fertilizer grade stuff, or worse.

There are many "companies obeying the law to the best of their abilities", but there are also too many exploiting the opacity of the law to the best of their abilities. This makes conflation of avoidance and evasion inevitable, at least in the public domain, which for me is where it matters. The public do not care that these companies are obeying the letter of the law when they can see plainly, and more importantly understand, that they are not obeying the spirit of it. Publicly-driven or otherwise, any move to attach greater penalty to evasion, or the utilisation of ever more complex methods of mitigation that forever push the boundary of the spirit (and the letter) of the law, for facilitator and user is step in the right direction, in my opinion.

What's wrong with tax compliance anyway - pay the right amount at the right time, simples.

We all hate taxes, but they're a fact of life.

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By listerramjet
09th Mar 2015 13:59

two straw men

:[email protected]_  

"There are many "companies obeying the law to the best of their abilities", but there are also too many exploiting the opacity of the law to the best of their abilities. "

"What's wrong with tax compliance anyway - pay the right amount at the right time, simples."

too many - says who?  If you are complying with the law then what other test would you make?  Who gets to say?  You seem to be arguing for the mob rule that the politicians have been pandering to.

What is wrong with tax compliance? this is just complete nonesense - if you are complying with the law then you are compliant - "exploiting the opacity" is still compliance..  Whom gets to say what is the "right amount".  Oh yes - the law!

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Replying to Accountant A:
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By moneymanager
09th Mar 2015 18:49

The law is an ass[***] but politicians enabled it

The courts are quute capable enough of coming to surprising judgements albeit on a definable analysis of statute. Asking them to apply subjectivity is nothing more than an oxymoron. The only answer is the "difficult" option and that is to agree an international redrafting of relevant laws, not easy but long overdue.

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By AE_
10th Mar 2015 17:19

Again, what mob rule

@listerramjet, you seem to have forgotten that politicians are elected by the public, and are supposed to serve the public interest. As such, to suggest that Government proposing legislation the vast majority of the public would like to see (and which seems perfectly reasonable, to me) and that further clarifies their position on the issues of avoidance and evasion to business and advisers alike is mob rule, is quite honestly complete nonsense.

You also seem to forget that I write based on my opinion - "too many - says who?" - me, I say so.

"Exploiting the opacity" may still be compliant. It really depends on whether the adviser's interpretation of the law is, if challenged, the same as that of the judge.

@moneymanager - I agree, a redrafting would likely be the best solution, but I reckon the probability of it happening is low to none, sadly.

 

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