Crack Down on the Tax Evaders!

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?

18 thoughts on “Crack Down on the Tax Evaders!”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    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?”

    I am not sure I would agree with that. No one hates the taxation regime more than me. I might even argue we have a moral obligation to avoid payment. But if we do not go that far, then we owe what we owe and we should pay every penny.

    The problem here is probably the law is vague and the Club thought it was doing the right thing. That is an argument for humane enforcement and law reform so that the law is a hell of a lot clearer.

    Still, in principle, people ought to pay what they should pay. No more but no less. No matter what the impact on them is. It would be tragic if this Club shut, and I doubt it is cost effective to pursue them in this way (although cricket is a Middle Class sport so perhaps class envy plays a role – showing the toffs that they cannot escape the tax man?), but still the law is the law.

    After all, what about the pub that had to close because it could not compete with their cheaper beer, or the hotel that could not cut prices to match those of the Club? That is not fair either, it is just that we do not see the wider impact on society as whole.

    And needless to say, apart from a simple, certain and clear tax system, keeping taxes as low as possible is also a good idea so that the impact on people is not so great.

    Mind you, the tax office is unbelievably thuggish when it comes to penalties and general behaviour. Vile little people who forget that in the end they depend on our good will or they would collect nothing without the bastinado. Which is, perhaps, now I think about it, what they would like.

  2. SMFS,
    My guess it not that it was vague. Rather that it was extremely specific. 80000 pages specific in fact. And the little platoons are not equipped to tackle a beast that large, so without equivalence of arms, the State reverts to its usual thuggish self.

  3. Bemused Bystander

    But Ritchie said this wouldn’t be a consequence of hyperbolic rhetoric about tax avoidance!

  4. Tim, I don’t wish to be rude, but have you given Margaret Hodge a guest spot on your blog?

    This reads very much like a “don’t read the letter of the law, apply the spirit. It’s not a question of what’s legal; it’s what’s moral that matters.”

    There might be a case for a more moderated approach if, perhaps, the club was in danger of going out of business. But then again, as SMFS quite correctly pointed out, there is quite probably a small business down the road that is struggling to match the club’s prices or pay its staff because it is being undercut by a competitor not paying its taxes.

    Incidentally, I think I have just described the standard business model for charity shops.

  5. Charity shops get a reduction in business rates and staffing costs. They also tend to get stock thats more variable than most shops and can quite easily run at a loss. They do have most of the same bills as other shops without the ability to achieve the same turnover. Where my business can sell a resin figurine for

  6. I agree with much of what’s been written in the comments so far. I’d also add that “sieving too small” is relative. six or seven hundred quid is nothing to HMRC, and it might not even be too much to the cricket club, but it will be a hefty chunk of money to some of those speakers, especially when they do a few events a month. That’s the annual Tuscany trip paid for, right there. No reason I can see to let them off the tax.

  7. I think it’s a situation whereby the authorities prefer to hammer helpless soft targets in order to meet their own targets, rather like the police hounding motorists whilst violent crime remains rife. Just as arsehole policemen prefer to confront with normal people instead of violent criminals, tax inspectors would rather rake a cricket club over the coals than deal with the tax lawyers at a multinational.

  8. Cricket is a middle-class sport? Really? I must be playing in the wrong leagues then.

    HM fucking RC won’t have much luck with our club – we haven’t paid anyone in the club’s entire history. Still, wouldn’t stop the fuckers though.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to simply stop pissing away billions on shit rather than shredding the foundations of civil society?

  9. All taxation is violent theft which empowers the evil scum of the state to commit their crimes.

    Most will go along to get along but the problem with that is that it only works for a while. At some point the polit filth will have fucked everything up so badly that no amount of going along will result in getting along. Often going along will equal disaster one way or another.

  10. Tim don’t know what its like in your area but have never come across police hounding law abiding motorists. Now if we are talking about laws being broken, is one lot of laws lower than another? Are police required to pick and choose which ones to apply and which ones should not be bothered with? Or is that for lawmakers to decide?
    Motor vehicles are responsible for some deaths each year, for a variety of reasons. Should police ignore all motor offences regardless of how many people are killed as a result? Or actually enforce laws relating to motor vehicles?

  11. Tim Newman is right here. It’s the principle of path of least resistance.

    Have you ever watched ticket inspectors do a purge at a railway station exit gate. Watch their

  12. @Martin Davis
    Once sat in the car park of the DIY store in the Seven Sisters Road watching 50 police stopping inbound commuters for out of date tax discs. 4th day of the month. Teams of two. One to harass the driver. Other snoops around the car, looking in the back, asking for the boot to be opened.
    11:00 am they collect their cones & board their vans headed for the canteen. That’s about the time the yoof about a mile north stirs from its assorted beds & begins its customary day cruising the streets in its tinted windowed, music throbbing BMWs, without benefit of tax disc, MOT or insurance, from one drug deal to the next. But ‘sensitive policing’ of course, prefers to be elsewhere.

  13. I once had a tax inspection on my mini-cab co. He spent at least 2 days there, and then presented us with this outrageous fact : We owed the VAT element of the 10p fees we had been charging for cups of coffee from the machine. Really worth his time.

    Alan Douglas

  14. Bloke in spain – so you would want the police to ignore one illegal issue in order to focus on another illegal issue that occurs as you put it later in the day?
    Simply campaign to make out of date tax discs not a problem and the police will be able to ignore it then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *