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Stop mudslinging and simplify the tax code

/ 13 February 2015

A letter from James Anderson of PAM Insight in Geneva is published in both The FT and The Independent. In it, Mr Anderson says MPs should focus on “closing tax loopholes used by the rich to reduce their tax liabilities, rather than engaging in more mindless mudslinging and parliamentary pantomime”. He says MPs “have added layer upon needless layer of tax legislation” and that “instead of making HMRC’s task more complicated every year, and chastising its CEO for merely trying to keep up with the latest politically motivated tax wheeze, MPs should focus their limited abilities on simplifying today’s ridiculously longwinded and cumbersome volumes of tax code. That might enable Ms Homer to carry out her duties more effectively.” Separately, writing in The Guardian, Prem Sikka says Britain “lacks effective institutions and the political will to deal with the tax-avoidance industry” and that the SFO’s £35m budget leaves it “incapable of fighting banks and giant law and accountancy firms.” Unlike in the US, the UK has failed to prosecute any accountancy firms for “peddling” tax avoidance schemes, he adds, despite them being declared unlawful by the courts.

Source:   Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian

Don’t know who this James Anderson is but I want to marry him and have his babies. Ridiculously longwinded and cumbersome is spot-on. But Prem Sikka is definitely not our Valentine. Virtually no schemes have been found to be “unlawful” in the sense of being criminal. A good many have been found to be ineffective, but that is a completely different matter. Taking a different view from HMRC is not (yet) a criminal offence, even if HMRC turn out to be supported by the courts.