Archives for posts with tag: HMRC

Comments on an FT article by Philip Stephens 

No policies? Every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

“Who can worry about housing, schools or transport, let alone the mundane aspirations of Middle England, ahead of the great liberation struggles.” I don’t know where Philip Stephens has been but every time I see Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed or giving speeches he is addressing these very issues and more.

I would suggest he and the Labour party have lost the working-class vote thanks to the previous Blair government being non representative of them.  Remember Mandelson talking about being: ” Intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes…?” Corbyn has also suffered very badly by the press.  Mrs May has profited by Cameron’s mistake and badly handled Remain campaign and we are now at the mercy of this unelected PM and her party… (see also JC policy docs here)

Philip Stephens creates a narrative that doesn’t fit the facts. Corbyn has delivered effective attacks on the Government on welfare, the NHS and housing, some producing small U-turns.

He also travelled up and down the country campaigning to Remain. The problem was he and the Labour Party failed to breakthrough the media ignoring their campaign and focussing (in terms of the Remain argument) exclusively on the pathetic and useless official Remain campaign. Jeremy has been democratically elected twice to be leader. His record should in no way be considered dismal. He has consistently delivered his honestly and long-held beliefs.

Rubbish analysis as per usual although the historical throwback is well put.

Corbyn does care about housing, education, schools, middle england, under invested regions (it was Corbyn who was talking about a migrant impact fund), transition to Green energy.

Corbyn far-left? Inaccurate and “un-FT”. Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards.

Far-left policies include abolishing private healthcare, private education, the monarchy, making all third-level education free, nationalising banks and railways and a number of other things, some of which would probably be quite good for the country.

As it is, Corbyn seems to be a middle of the road socialist, at least by normal European standards. Far-left European politicians would include Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Alexander Lukashenko and any number of dictatorial 1980s Communist party secretaries in Warsaw Pact-era eastern Europe. Jeremy Corbyn is quite clearly not in that zone unless one is a swivel-eyed Daily Mail reader.

A question: When Brexit is done and May is left standing there blinking vaguely and surrounded by the wreckage of the economy where will the Conservative Party be in the eyes of the electorate?

Its reputation for sound economic management will have been trashed along with the economic damage it has just imposed on the country so who wins?

Philip you are doing the FT (and its readers) a signal disservice by misunderstanding Corbyn and the Labour left.

Copeland was never likely to vote for an anti nuclear Labour Party – and well you know that. The wonder is that the Labour Party nearly won the seat despite being clearly antagonistic to the existence of the region’s biggest employer. WE, the subscribers to the FT, expect objective reporting that enables good decision making.

Corbyn and labour can’t win at the moment, if they go to the middle and ignore the democratisation of their party they will lose, if they stay a democratic left party the boomers and those with assets won’t vote for them as they fear socialism

Meanwhile the millennials and future generations bear the brunt of public debt created privately, and shareholder capitalism which is a race to the bottom, generation rent, and the absurd 40% of income rent costs in areas where there are plentiful jobs and opportunity epitomises the modern day surplus extraction and misery of those who have not lived among the golden age of capitalism, add tuition fees, stagnating public services (NHS), erosion of employment rights and you can see why Corbyn is confident among that 20% (of which I’m a part, ha ha ha, how funny he’s so inept ha ha ha lets all laugh at corbyn because there are so many other alternatives out there that are SO much better).

The Tories will continue their irrational, economically illiterate policy that is not running the country into the ground but causing growing social issues, and new social actors will emerge from the post 2008 age eventually tipping the balance towards something more corbyn-esque. Until then it will be the same old, same old.

Corbyn’s crackpot policies are simply outrageous! Spending a little more on the NHS and primary school education?  Providing a bit more affordable housing in the midst of a housing crisis? 

Failing to asset strip the public infrastructure? Rowing back a bit on the vast, exploitative Sports Direct-ification of the British economy?  Why, this is simply unpatriotic! How “radical” – somebody stop this crazed moderate, centre-left European-style social democrat Corbyn before my taxes end up a little bit higher and the proles end up with a slightly better quality of life!

God forbid that poorer people should ever have slightly better quality of life. Who knows where that might end? It’s better not to give people hope. It just encourages them to think. 

I agree.  Britain’s low wage, low skill, low investment, low productivity economy would be severely jeopardised by the dangerous, radical policies of Jeremy Corbyn. Sure, he’s languishing in the polls now, but the proles are a fickle lot and cannot be trusted to consistently vote for their own impoverishment. What if Corbyn dons a Union Jack leotard and starts leaping up to belt out a few verses of ‘God Save The Queen’ with gusto on the next campaign trail, waving a couple of flags about like the dickens.  Why, the proles might even be duped by this charade into voting him into office! This would leave us all at the mercy of an outbreak of half-decent working and housing conditions for the proles at any time.  This simply would not do, too much has already been invested by the Conservatives in their cooption of UKIP’s policy platform!

There was no money left. The Tories have just borrowed billions. The crash will be spectacular.

This article is high in the running for one of the worst I have read in the FT in years.  We are in the end times of Neo-Liberalism, an experiment where maybe 20% did very well, and 80% were massively left behind.

Corbyn, Trump, Brexit are consequences of a system that has failed, and a financial system that collapsed in 2008, never a crisis always a collapse.  Stevens has no understanding of the why’s of brexit or the rise of Corbyn.  The left-right paradigm is dead.  I could not find one sentence in this article that is not total ideological nonsense.

If Jeremy has got under the skin of Philip Stephens so badly he must be doing something right.

Most Labour MPs and most journalists hate Corbyn as if he were the devil.  He represents the one pole of the process of polarisation caused by the 2007-9 Great Recession and the continuing crisis of world capitalism.

Let there be no mistake. The reason Philip Stephens is so horrified is because if his buddies amongst the old Labour MPs who are career politicians, were instead people of principle and socialists, then the Labour Party would be challenging for power.

The lesson of our era is the fluidity and rapidity of change. If Corbyn is right, (and I think there is lots of evidence to back him up), if he can be seen to be a leader of masses on protests and demonstrations, this will sharply polarise politics and this may match a simultaneous collapse in Tory support.  The Labour MPs who are resigning and trying to oust Corbyn again with their endless press briefings against him are part of a deliberate coup attempt. This time a sort of coup by water torture. They will fail again. The only major criticism one can make of Corbyn is he is too soft on these saboteurs. There are times when a sword must be wielded.

The worrying thing about this analysis is, his policies weren’t even that far left, they were definitely more central than Thatcher’s. Yet the FT reports this as if he’s Lenin/Kim Jung Un etc. His biggest failing for the press is he wants a meritocracy and for companies which require state support (through the use of tax credits to prop up salaries and increase profits and bonuses) to not pay dividends, which is effectively the Government paying the rich in an indirect way. Yes he has his failings, as does everyone, but generally speaking a lot of his economic policies would work fairly well at creating a long term balanced economy.

Corbyn, and his anointed heir, need to show there is an alternative to the Conservative Creed. Perhaps he needs to lose an election to clear out the MPs who are undermining him.

Perhaps this will result in his own political demise. But if he has a suitable succession plan in place then his success will come after he is gone. With the LabouraTory MPs planked off the sinking ship, seats will be freed for real Labour candidates for the subsequent election.

Facetious commentary. Corbyn has inherited a mess of a party with crumbling membership and totally out of touch MPs.

Time and time again polls have shown that the public want a ring fenced NHS, working railways and better care for the elderly, sick and disabled. To finance that he has stated that he will increase funding to the HMRC so that it can go after companies that are not paying their taxes (last year’s estimated unpaid tax was £34 Billion) which is probably why this article has been written in the style it has.

People want the state to intervene if something isn’t working. The current level of income disparity is something that is directly affecting the world by creating the perfect soil for fascism. Yet no other political leader wants to do anything about it (since it will affect their careers after being an MP). 

Versus the CIA and capitalism he is the best chance we have of having a fair society


David Cameron has rewarded a senior civil servant who committed a “catastrophic leadership failure” in the new year’s honours list.

lin homerValentine Low and Lucy Fisher in the Times record that Lin Homer, the chief executive of Revenue & Customs, becomes a Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath, despite being heavily criticised in a succession of jobs.

Dame Lin has repeatedly been seen to fail during her meteoric career, note a 2012 article:

  • She was criticised in 2005 when she was chief executive of Birmingham city council; a judge said that she had “thrown the rule book out of the window” in an effort to increase postal vote applications. Richard Mawrey, the election commissioner, described the following electoral fraud as one which “would disgrace a banana republic”.
  • In her role as chief executive of the UK Border Agency (2008), she was accused of repeatedly misleading MPs over the size of the backlogs in asylum and immigration.
  • In 2010, when she was permanent secretary at the Department for Transport, where she stayed for less than 12 months, she was among officials criticised by Sir Richard Branson for ignoring concerns over the franchising competition for the West Coast main line.
  • In her present role as head of HMRC, she has been accused by the public accounts committee of “an unambitious and woefully inadequate” response to a deplorable National Audit Office report – see an earlier Political Concern post .

Why has Ms Homer been given this accolade?

Yesterday, Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn MP, outlined his vision for a more productive and fairer economy for all at a policy seminar.

jc 2 report coverHe addressed ‘the Conservative myth’ that wealth creation is solely due to the dynamic risk-taking of private equity funds, entrepreneurs or billionaires bringing their investment to UK shores.

If believed, it is logical to cut taxes for the rich and big business, not to bother to invest in the workforce, and be intensely relaxed about the running down of public services as is happening.

He affirmed: “Where there are tough choices, we will always protect public services and support for the most vulnerable”.

Corbyn’s alternative, laid out in The Economy in 2020 and accessed via the campaign website, is to build a rebalanced, prosperity-focused economy, based on growth and high quality jobs.

His leadership campaign has no big private donors. He wants Labour to become a democratic social movement again, dedicated to real change:

jeremy corbyn (2)”Cuts are not the way to prosperity; Britain needs a publicly-led expansion and reconstruction of the economy, with a big rise in investment levels. We must ensure that our national housing, transport, digital and energy networks are among the best in the world.

“This requires the establishment of an National Investment Bank to promote infrastructure upgrades and support for innovation. Labour 2020 will make large reductions in the £93 billion of corporate tax relief and subsidies. These funds can be used to establish the National Investment Bank to head a multi-billion pound programme of infrastructure upgrades and support for high-tech and innovative industries”.

On taxation and tax justice, Jeremy argued: “Paying tax is not a burden. It is the subscription we pay to live in a civilised society. A collective payment we all make for the collective goods we all benefit from: schools, hospitals, libraries, street lights, pensions, the list is endless.

“Under these plans outlined today Labour 2020 will make the tax system more progressive, and follow a five-point plan to tackle tax avoidance and evasion:

  • Stronger anti-avoidance rules brought into UK tax law.
  • The aim of country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations.
  • Reform of small business taxation to tackle avoidance and evasion.
  • Enforce proper regulation of companies in the UK to ensure that they pay what they owe.
  • A reversal of the cuts to staff in HMRC and at Companies House, taking on more staff at both, to   ensure that HMRC can collect the taxes the country so badly needs.

“The UK has shifted from taxing income and wealth to taxing consumption; and from taxing corporations to taxing individuals. We must ensure that those with the most, pay the most, not just in monetary terms but proportionally too.”

“What responsible government committed to closing the deficit would give a tax break to the richest 4% of households?”

Monday evening, 2nd February at Queens in Edgbaston

Should there be a Tax-dodging bill?

Guest speaker Richard Murphy

richard murphyAfter training and working as a tax accountant Richard Murphy became concerned about the injustice he found and has been one of the leading campaigners for a better system.

He points out that HMRC’s senior management have decided to halve their staff in the decade 2005-2015. Over 30,000 people have already gone. He adds that the tax gap can’t be closed without people to check accounts, visit missing traders, pursue uncollected tax and handle investigations.

As his research has shown, in 2009-10 HMRC asked 1,796,000 companies (out of 2.8 million that existed) to submit tax returns. Only 1,183,000 did submit a return, so 34% of companies asked to submit a tax return did not do so whilst only 42% of all companies actually submitted a return.

tax justice flyer

News from a reader in her seventies with income from pensions and savings below the national average after tax has been deducted, prompted a search of collected data and online reports.

hmrc pensioners

Her equally baffled MP put this case  to the Treasury Committee; the chairman’s assistant replied: “The issue you describe does seem confusing” and undertook to draw it to the attention of the committee before taking evidence from HMRC in autumn.

In marked contrast to their cosy agreements & accommodations with big business, the HMRC compels her to continue, despite having all the information in their departments, which are said to be unable to share it, one officer saying angrily: “Why don’t you employ an accountant?”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Independent reported that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have caught only five of thirty people, some owing hundreds of thousands of pounds – and many owing millions – identified as costing the UK more than £844m.

Strangely, the government has been reducing staff and budget from this revenue-collecting department, despite concerns ant the shortfall in income due. A few examples follow:

hmrc staff shortfall poster2004: 15,000 jobs cut since March 2004 with 165 offices earmarked for closure or in the process of closing.

2008: closure of a further 95 offices across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland affecting up to 12,300 staff

2010: the Public and Commercial Services Union warn that a decision by Revenue & Customs to close 130 offices would cause job losses, undermine tax collection and hit advice and support to taxpayers.

2014: the end for all 281 walk-in tax enquiry centres, with a further 23 large sites across the UK facing imminent closure. More than 2,000 fixed-term workers compulsorily redundant despite its own business plan revealing a staffing shortfall (page 16).

HMRC staffing levels chart
The Public and Commercial Services Union criticises HMRC’s intention to privatise more of its debt collection and post handling, reporting huge backlogs of post and private debt collectors already being brought in to chase up tax credits overpayments.

Perhaps this apparent inefficiency and inconsistency is not political madness, but the outworking of a hidden agenda, with privatisation as the objective.

keir starmer cpsThe Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) merged with the Department for Work and Pensions’ prosecutions division last year and the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has issued new guidelines to prosecutors in England and Wales: people convicted of benefit and tax credit fraud are to face increased prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Vodafone, the mobile phone operator, who is reported to have paid no corporation tax in Britain for two successive years agreed a multimillion pound settlement with HM Revenue & Customs in 2009 and made a £1.25bn deal with HMRC in 2010 to settle a high profile dispute over a Luxembourg subsidiary

HMRC then recruits Vodafone executive

Vodafone cio to HMRCLast month the business press reported that Vodafone UK’s CIO, Mark Dearnley, will step down and take on the role chief digital and information officer at the HM Revenue and Customs (headed by Lin Homer . . .) in October this year., which reports on business and technology in their industry added the cartoon on the right to their report.

One law for the rich, another for the relatively poor – time for change.

Since the loss of its ‘preferred credit status’ in 2003, HMRC is said to have ‘ramped up’ distraint visits.

Accounting Web reports that the number of occasions its powers have been used to seize assets has quadrupled in just two years, rising to 7,004 in the twelve months to April 2011 from 1,675 cases two years ago. The assets are typically sold off at ‘fire sale’ prices that fail to cover the amount of unpaid tax and reduce the chances of other creditors being repaid.

Stuart McNeill, from law firm McGrigors, believes that: “By barging in and selling the assets of a late paying company without making a proper commercial assessment of the firm’s medium term viability, HMRC risk sacrificing full payment in a few months’ time for far less cash up front.”

Seizing the assets of businesses that might otherwise recover is driving many to insolvency and directly contradicts HMRC’s ‘Time To Pay’ scheme, which aims to support small businesses through the negotiation of late payments.


Banks who now prematurely push the administration button should be made to ‘pause for thought’

Cllr John Clancy writes:

“It has been a nauseating feature of the last few years that the banks who went belly up themselves are less than sympathetic when it comes to others simply hovering around insolvency.

“The rights and entitlements of being first secured creditor means that the bailed-out banks in particular, who are desperate to build up their pretend capital bases, are more likely to push the liquidate or administration button in order quickly to get out of a business, crystallising a debt asset as much as possible short-term, regardless of the wider commercial or employee consequences.

If they realised it wasn’t that easy, and that others might be paid out before them, then perhaps an appropriate pause for thought by the bank might be a good thing for the entire system.

Yesterday the BBC website reported that, in a leaked letter to David Cameron and Nick Clegg, Vince Cable proposes that RBS should be turned into a new “British business bank” – but the measures proposed by John Clancy would be far more beneficial to the country’s SMEs, averting or better ordering many business insolvencies which “radiate catastrophically outwards into the commercial and social community”.