Here we see the results of Richard Murphy\’s insistence that we should be cracking down on the tax evaders:
The letter was polite enough. “Could we come and look at your books,” was the message from the tax authorities to Sawbridgeworth Cricket Club in Hertfordshire.
Tax inspectors spent almost five hours going through the club’s neat and detailed accounts, asking questions about payments to staff. The result was a bill for £14,403, an assessment of what the 151-year-old club owed the Exchequer in untaxed earnings of bar staff, accommodation and perks for professionals and a series of other items dating back to 2008.
Val Waring, chairman of the club, which plays in Division 2 East in the Home Counties Premier League, was stunned when the bill arrived.
“I thought the club might have to close and that would have been a disaster,” she recalls.
Similar scenes are being played out at minor cricket clubs throughout the country as HM Revenue & Customs teams extend inquiries down to the grassroots of the summer game.
For this is where that tax evasion goes on. Among the small clubs, the small trades, the little platoons of society.
Yup, there\’s nothing more important than having HMRC trawling the books of the local cricket club. And the Mothers\’ Union (all those speakers\’ fees) and the Rotary Clubs and the ……well, you get the picture. This is indeed that grey economy, where people are doing entirely legal things but not marking every jot and tittle of the tax code.
Myself I rather tend to the idea that there\’s filters too fine to be used in a decent society. There\’s a level at which you simply say, yup, some people aren\’t paying all the tax legally owed. So what?
Mike Down, head of the tax risk and investigation management group at tax advisers Baker Tilly, feels HMRC is taking a tougher line. “We are finding that, as well as pursuing past years’ tax liabilities, they are pressuring clubs by seeking up to six years back-tax and charging penalties.”
It\’s a purely personal; thing of course but perhaps that filter that\’s being applied there is sieving too small?