Posts Tagged ‘Tax Dodgers’
Phil, one of my fellow hen-keepers, indulges in designing posters for a hobby. This morning his latest creation was on display in the allotment ‘shed’. It shows a group picture of we codgers with an inset featuring our dear leader. He is holding a gun and pointing it is our direction whilst saying, via a ‘bubble’, “You lot are even older than Skinner”. I suspect Mr Cameron has lost a few votes for his party today with his loathing of fogies.
But a daft poster can only hold the attention or so long and, over our post-cleaning brew, chat soon turned to what was once described as one of the two great certainties, taxes and death. As each week passes we realise that for many taxes have been taken out of the equation. A missive from Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to Gorgeous George Osborne has been leaked. Well sort of leaked as a means of showing that the Cleggites, although under the table, are biting the Old Etonians around the ankles.
It reveals that thousands of senior public officials on more than £60,000 per year are being paid “off payroll”. In other words they are paid through service companies, or through employment agencies, as a result of which their salaries are taxed at the corporation tax rate of 21 per cent. Apparently Alexander was alerted to this by last week’s revelation that Ed Lester, head of the Students Loan Comapny, was paid through a company which allowed him to dodge tens of thousands of pounds in tax. Mr Lester is paid £182,000 and pocketed £40,000 that mere mortals would have paid to the taxman.
Experts appearing on TV yesterday evening estimated that around £20 million was syphoned off by the 2000 so far surveyed, and warned that this may well be only the tip of a very large greedy iceberg. The first reaction from the Treasury was that this also happened under Labour. Since they have been out of office for a long time now that did seem somewhat irrelevant.
So our top civil servants are paying only half of their tax bills. And they include the people who supposedly tackle top level tax avoidance. Ye Gods! We already know that most of our top companies and richest people operate tax avoidance, as do a number of millionnaire ministers. Small wonder that they have been able to give the rest of us a two-fingered salute with impunity!
So secretive have been successive governments on the subject that each individual exposure in the press creates a stir. When the tax-dodging of Amazon and Vodaphone was revealed we innocents gasped in outrage. Within days a list of companies as long as Peter Crouch’s arms followed, and it dawned on us that those with assets are almost united in their determination to avoid paying tax. Experts claim that the total amount ‘dodged’ amounts to billions.
As if to stoke our anger Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, yesterday launched a fierce attack on the attitude of the banking sector to new financial regulation. “Already we see vested interests rise up to defend their bonuses and profits”, he said. Sensing the way the wind is blowing, our dear leader said, in an interview with John Humphrys, that he finds tax-dodging “morally repugnant”. Perhaps he will have to forsake some of his cronies then.
Such as his trade minister Lord (Stephen) Green. It recently emerged that the bank he ran until 2010, HSBC, has set aside £3 billion for a dispute with the tax authorities over a contrived and long-standing scheme to bring back money tax-free from its tax haven operations by redeeming shares in a Dutch holding company. Cameron may also have to give the cold shoulder to Robin Budenberg. When he was a banker at UBS, the UK Financial Investments chief executive put his ample bonus through an offshore structure to dodge national insurance contributions. As did the chairman of HM Treasury’s audit committee Sir Michael O’Higgins when he was at management consultancy firm PA Consulting.
I must stop boring you for the list thrown up even by my basic research is a very long one. It is almost correct to say that not one of our dear leader’s chums is paying full, or any, tax. And the campaign group 38 Degrees has long pursued George Osborne and others, all labelled by the group as artful dodgers.
Only last week I chatted to a cancer victim who is being harried by the private company employed to assess the ability to work of benefit recipients. Nothing would please him more than to be able to work but it is absolutely impossible. Every reader will have heard similar stories.
Yet, in our name, the state continues to turn the lives of vulnerable people into a living nightmare. Times are hard, we are told. But the fact is that they are hard only for some. Civil Servants, bankers, top businessmen and tycoons galore are pocketing barrel-loads of money that is due to the treasury.
What they are doing is legal, but it stinks to high heaven. It is, to quote our dear leader, morally repugnant. If only he meant it someone up there might be persuaded to act in the interests of common justice.
In the tax-dodging Britain of 2012 that is conspicuous only by its absence!
Comments to undercover journalists by Vince Cable which rendered him unfit to judge BSkyB takeover; 1.
Comments via email to and from News Corp lobbyists which apparently do not render Jeremy Hunt unfit to judge ongojng media regulation; 161
The mild weather continues and this morning the fish in the big pond were rising for food, an unusual thing for February. But the forecast is for the return of the icy blasts at the weekend and we did our best to dissuade Albert from storing away his eskimo suit. We also poured scorn on his latest brainwave to set himself up as a chicken poo consultancy with a view to dodging tax. Today’s headlines about the antics at the Department of Health triggered the notion, but we warned that whilst the taxmen are always generous to the Gods, they tend to stage dawn raids on scruffs bent on saving ten bob on their tax return.
In December Gareth Jones, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, sought assurances that health department staff were not being paid by means of payment to limited companies in lieu of salary, as a means of paying tax at the much lower corporate tax level. Health minister Simon Burns replied that, good heavens, no such payments are made. “It is not the department’s policy to permit payments to civil servants by way of limited companies”, he proudly announced with a wave of his not inconsiderabe paws.
Unfortunately for him someone in the department has leaked details to the Guardian. More than 25 senior executives are being paid through companies registered at their home addresses. The documents show that the named individuals are being paid more than £250,000 per year, as well as individual expenses. When challenged the D of H said that it couldn’t justify the practice, but intriguingly added that this may merely be “the tip of an iceberg”. It defended its earlier denial by saying that the individuals are not technically civil servants even though many have worked at Richmond House since William Pitt ruled. Leaked emails show that every possible effort to deceive has been considered.
Those who are horrified at what Lansley is doing to the NHS will inevitably point the finger at him. But that would not be entirely fair for it appears that this form of tax dodging has been going on for years. It could of course be reasonably argued that he should have checked out his own camp before diving headlong into accusations against the NHS, all of which have now been shown to be about as true as Simon Burn’s statement.
The major justifications for his NHS reforms were claims by Andrew Lansley that productivity has fallen dramatically, and that the vast majority of people support his plan despite the total opposition of the medical professions, which he describes as “vested interests”. A few days ago his claim about productivity was exposed as a lie, today the result of a national survey of 700,000 patients by the Care Commission is published. The percentage of patients rating their experience of the NHS is 84% ! Satisfaction with the service is said to be at “an all time high”.
Meantime an internal assessment of all four NHS regions has placed the Lansley plan in the highest risk category, and the summary warns that there is a high chance the reforms will fail. The government’s own risk assessment is said to be equally damning but Lansley has so far managed to block its publication. Whilst all this has been going on the providers of private health insurance have launched a massive multi-million pound campaign.
The revelations about tax dodging by such a large number of executives suggest that those who claim that Lansley has little idea of what really happens in the average surgery or hospital are probably right. Clearly he doesn’t even know what is happening in his own corridors of power!
Perhaps he should enquire. And whilst doing so he should perhaps ask why his department has just paid out £2,810,103 in bonuses for pushing paper around. It might be better spent on nurses!
THINGS PEOPLE SAID ABOUT INTELLIGENCE; ” He was so thick he couldn’t tell which way a lift was going if he got two guesses”……..Roy Chubby Brown “His mum gives him a see-through lunchbox so he can tell whether he is on his way to work or on his way home”……Robert Klein “I was gratified to be able to answer instantly. I said I didn’t know”…..Mark Twain “The average person’s attention span is that of a ferret on a double espresso”…..Dennis Miller “What luck for the leaders that men do not think”…….Adolf Hitler “I’ve written a book. It’s called ‘How to Raise you IQ by Eating Gifted Children’ “……Lewis B Frumkes “I have come to the conclusion that a good set of reliable bowels is worth more to a man than any quantity of brains”…….Josh Billings
We allotment codgers must declare an interest before commenting on the case involving ‘Arry Redknapp. We are amongst his number one fans and, almost blindly, applaud his every word. And most of them are worth listening to, a perfect example being his comments of last week on the obsession of the media with football managers. ‘Arry said that the manager of bottom Premiership club Wigan is in fact cleverer that him, he simply doesn’t have the players. And as for oil-rich Manchester City, a local hack could triumph there since all he has to do is buy up the world’s best players.
Sadly our hero now finds himself in a spot of ‘bovver’. Our hope is that he will be aquitted but that is not something we can decide. Our sense of outrage is centered on the huge media attention and the implication that a tax ‘haven’ is something unique, something no one has ever used before.
Time and again this blog has named many of our largest companies which pay very little tax by basing skeleton ‘processing’ units abroad. The vast majority of the richest indivuals in the UK do the same. Just last week the figures covering Tony Blair’s money-making organisation were revealed and, lo and behold, it pays very little tax. But it is unfair to single out any individual for a list of the top thousand richest people who pay full tax would require only the back of an envelope. And we can of course throw in the companies who have reached ‘agreements’ with the Inland Revenue which have cost taxpayers millions.
The truth is that the approach of our governmnet to tax avoidance is unique. an example is provided by the US insurance company Aon. It is moving its head office here and makes no secret of its reason. This, says the firm, “is to take advantage of the new rules which permit a significant reduction in our global effective tax rate”. The firm has $300 million stashed offshore and admits that were it returned to the US, it would “spark a tax charge”. In return we get merely the possibility of 20 senior executives relocating here. Tax haven Britain is open for business!
And there are literally hundreds of similar stories. Estimates of the amount being lost to the treasury each year are in the region of £180 billion. And today we learn more about the mysterious ‘Chemistry Club” which runs invitation events at the Sartoria restaurant in Mayfair. For a charge of £1800 leading business gurus can enjoy what are described as “relevant introductions” to ministers. Chief executive of the Club, Mark Simon, says that the events “target key decision makers”. No surprise there. No surprise either that Labour MP Lisa Nandy has remarked that it is “hard to avoid the impression that ministers are just paying lip service to the principle of open government”.
One of the attendees paying heed to the lobbyists has been the chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander. Yesterday he was on his feet in the Commons defending criticism of the fact that the national debt has now passed the trillion mark. He did the tradional assault on Labour for “creating this mess”, and then turned his ire on wealthy tax-dodgers. “Our message to you”, he droned, “is that no matter how well known you are, how clever your accountants, however far away you hide your money, we are coming to get you”. At least he won’t have far to travel for Mayfair is but caber-toss away (Mr Alexander is one of those MPs who will presumably join Mr Salmond when he creates his kingdom).
It was of course a statement similar to those made many times by both the last government and this one. Tax avoidance is now a UK national sport, and the amounts being syphoned off make the amounts being quoted in the Redknapp trial sound mere pocket money.
So when all those massed photographers have finished snapping ‘Arry for the umpteenth time, they might like to point their cameras elsewhere. Then again, the Press barons might not care for that!
A FEW QUOTES TO REFLECT ON; ” I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it for it is never of any use to oneself”…..Oscar Wilde “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”…..Motto, The Green Berets “If you’re going through hell, keep going”…..Winston Churchill “Never accept a drink from a urologist”…….Erma Bombeck ” To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target”……Ashleigh Brilliant “Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual”….Terry Pratchett
Hope you had a belting Christmas. Now all we have to bother us are dodgy digestive systems and credit-card repayments. The build-up to the great day started back in October and it was impossible for any one day to live up to so much hype, but we allotment codgers had a go. One thing that has to change in our nest next time is the placing of Christmas cards. Each year we stand them on every conceivable ledge or shelf, each year people keep opening the front door at which point every card in the place takes off for Manchester Airport. Suggestions on a postcard please, but no prizes for suggestions involving sellotape which is guaranteed to create a unwelcome demand from she-who-must-be-obeyed for redecorating.
Today’s papers return us to the real world, although how real the polls are is hard to fathom. The ones I have read suggest that David Cameron is now regarded by 99 per cent of the population as a posh version of Mother Theresa. Perhaps the polls were taken in Surbiton, I really cannot imagine that reading in Wigan where they use the Old Etonian for darts matches. But the story that really attracted attention on the allotments concerned Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem children’s minister.
As a member of the coalition’s top team Ms Teather gave vehement support to the austerity programme. She stood shoulder to shoulder with Theresa Cameron and the dashing Osborne in refusing to contemplate action against tax dodgers, bank bonuses, high-speed rail and Olympics overspend. Like her hero Nick she made clear that the people must tighten their belts and stop whingeing about such luxuries as libraries and meals-on-wheels.
And that is her right. But being a hypocrite isn’t. Having supported cuts in local public services she is now campaigning against the ghastly plan to close public libraries in Brent. Why Brent? Because that is her constituency.
And she is not alone in her incredible hypocracy. Jeremy Browne (foreign office), Steve Webb (pensions) and James Brokenshire (crime) have all followed suit. All have lobbied their fellow ministers to save their own patches!
With behaviour like this is it any wonder that ministers and MPs at large are now to be found at the foot of the table of trustworthiness. Even estate agents and journalists now leave them standing. With one exception!
David Cameron stands next to God, David Beckham and Lady Gaga in the ratings, a politician far removed from the riffraff that seek our votes. Funny old world isn’t it!