Are the interns writing the tax stories these days?

The reason that those ad sales do not show up on the Companies House accounts is because Facebook processes its UK sales in Ireland, where corporation tax is lower than the UK – a controversial practice that is legal under HM Revenue & Customs’ tax law.

Seriously? Someone thinks that HMRC creates the tax law rather than simply administering it?

Jeebus.

13 comments on “Are the interns writing the tax stories these days?

  1. Sophie Curtis, 1st in English Literature from Newcastle, she is an ‘information technology’ reporter with no IT training (according to her linkedin page no less).

  2. The wording of that is unclear – do they think that Ireland’s corporation tax rate being less than Britain’s is controversial? Do they want HMRC ‘tax law’ to cover that?

    The Left are awfully imperialistic these days over tax.

  3. The article also says Facebook made a loss in 2012 due in part to losses carried forward.
    Er, NO. The losses carried forward may affect tax liability but not profits for the year.

  4. it’s just about writing a linkbait-driving fury stories. People who care about things like accuracy and detailed analysis parted from the newspapers years ago.

  5. I think you’re just being churlish. An English Lit degree qualifies you to do literally anything (except perhaps understand the meaning of literally). It qualifies you to know everything there is to know about the environment, planning laws and needs, benefits, economics and now about tax. And not just technical knowledge; it gives you a secure moral platform too. And of course there is no point in knowing it unless you talk (i.e. lecture people) about it. So the obvious next step is to write about it.

    Yes indeed, there is nothing for which the study of sexually frustrated Regency period provincial girls doesn’t equip you.

  6. An English Lit degree qualifies you to do literally anything…

    Not the least of which is saying, “Would you like fries with that?”

  7. Doesn’t the HMRC create tax law in a common-law sort of way? Revenue commissioners and all that? Does the UK have an independent tax court to rule on disputes, or does HMRC simply assess your tax (with more or less negotiation) and that, being the word of the monarch, is thus Law? Or have I misunderstood completely?

  8. Tax courts are independent. There are specialist tax tribunals made up of judges and other qualified folk, and appeals from those go up through the normal courts (albeit specialist divisions thereof).

    The closest HMRC has to control over the dispute process is that if you want to go to mediation rather than the courts (“Alternative Dispute Resolution”) then the mediator is likely to be from HMRC. The intention is that they would be independent professionals, but most seem to have come from HMRC. But ADR is optional, and you can appeal to the tribunals if you don’t like the result.

    Some officers of HMRC however do seem to have difficulty accepting that it is tax statute, rather than HMRC guidance, that makes the law – I’ve often had my reference to an Act of Parliament countered by a reference to one of HMRC’s Manuals. Of course the correct legal response is that what MPs have voted on carries more weight than what HMRC has unilaterally (and non-statutorily) decided, but I do sometimes find the suggestion that “Parliament knows what it’s talking about” sticking in my craw :-)

  9. Pellinor

    This might seem a little bit obvious, but it strikes me any HMRC officer countering Statute with HMRC guidance doesn’t know their own job.

  10. Depends what you think their job is :-) It might be to make sure the correct amount of tax is paid, given the facts and the legal position; or it might be to make sure that the given quota of enquiries is undertaken and the target amount of additional tax is recovered without wasting the department’s time in considering the position in undue depth.

    Or, put more simply: their job may be to apply HMRC’s interpretation of the law, as set out in the manuals. Making sure the manuals reflect the law is someone else’s job. HMRC’s “lean management” system means that this sort of thing gets very compartmentalised.

  11. To be fair, if the law is open to interpretation, then they really should be applying HMRC’s interpretation shouldn’t they!

    No, the problem might just be that you’ve met someone a bit crap.

  12. The main problem is when the manual covers the general position, or the most common situations, and the taxpayer is in an unusual one that has special rules.

    Basically, I’m the person playing a boardgame who does something sneaky that no-one else knew you could do, because they’ve just picked up the rules from playing rather than reading the instructions. As my wife keeps telling me, reading the rules is a form of cheating :-)

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