HMRC has been accused of letting tax avoidance scheme users off the hook after it emerged that inspectors failed to challenge the tax returns of at least 26 investors in the Liberty scheme within the time limit required by law. “It is shocking that HMRC will be forced to pay out millions of pounds to tax avoiders,” said the Public Accounts Committee’s Margaret Hodge. Ms Hodge said that she expected HMRC head Lin Homer to answer questions about how much money was lost each year through the failure to issue notices when she appears before the committee next week. Despite suggestions that HMRC has slipped up, around 33,000 people who invested in tax avoidance schemes will receive demands for payment in the near future as a result of the new finance bill, which will become law in the next few weeks.
We Say: Let’s see now. 33,000 returns should have been investigated. We don’t know how many slipped through HMRC’s systems in total. But the number given in the report is 26. We appreciate that St Margaret does of course achieve personal perfection in all she has ever done, and demands the same of others; but we think that most of the rest of us would settle for getting things something over 99.9% right.