Polly’s new bright idea

Richard Murphy, a tax campaigner and chartered accountant, counts the ways this government fails to collect its taxes.


Murphy says data from Switzerland on secret UK bank accounts was sent – 6,000 names from just one bank – but it took 18 months to send them letters and only two people have been prosecuted. “Do you think banks don’t tip off their clients?” Murphy asks. Of the £3bn predicted to be recouped, only £700,000 has been collected.

Or perhaps all those accounts belonged to British citizens who were either non-resident or resident but non-doms. You know, people who don’t actually owe UK tax on money in Switzerland?

And the real joy here is that Osborne’s mistake was to believe the campaigners like Murphy (and Brooks etc) about how much money there might be recoverable. Now, when there isn’t as much as they insisted there was they’re wandering around with that “What, me? Farted?” look on their faces.

Scandals erupt: the man who helped npower use Malta to avoid corporation tax sits on HMRC’s board alongside other business people. Why isn’t Murphy on that board?

Because he doesn’t know very much about the subject under discussion?

Despite protests by Sainsbury’s and John Lewis, tax-avoiding Amazon continues to undercut high-street stores that do pay tax by pretending all its profits arise in Luxemburg. Google pretends it operates all deals from a man-and-a dog office in Ireland.

The law expressly and specifically allows these practices.

Part of me actually wants The Murph on the HMRC baord. Be fun to see how long he lasts before he gets fired.

24 thoughts on “Polly’s new bright idea”

  1. I suspect, but am much too lazy to check, that Amazon’s advantage over high street bookstores owes rather more to business rates and economies of scale than it does to zomgtaxavoidance.

  2. @FCAblog – Amazon’s net profit is also around 0.5% of turnover as Bezos insists on ploughing almost everything back into developing and expanding the business with, presumably, the ultimate end goal of ruling the world. You can’t tax profit that isn’t made, which is of course why people are now starting to militate for a tax on turnover, like the pig-ignorant idiots they are.

  3. Christie,

    “I suspect, but am much too lazy to check, that Amazon’s advantage over high street bookstores owes rather more to business rates and economies of scale than it does to zomgtaxavoidance.”

    If you’ve worked retail, you know that a lot of it is really inefficient. You come into work in a record shop on a Tuesday, you open up, serve a few customers on their way into work, then pretty much stand around bored until lunchtime. Then you have a couple of busy hours. Then just before 5 until 5:30, you get lots of customers. And my brief time in a building society was about the same. Around 1/3rd of retail staff working week is dead time.

  4. Sorry but she’s losing me.
    I thought supermarkets were the big bad boys. Now they’re a victim.
    In next week’s edition, ASH deplores the tax on cigarettes?

  5. Loving the idea that someone on 11,000 who gets hit with more than 30% tax on that income would be under the impression the UK is a ‘low tax’ society. I thought April fool articles came today anyway?

  6. So Polly wants HMRC to act more like IRS? IRS view ALL American income to be taxable, ANYWHERE. The only way for American to get out of this predicament is to formally renounce citizenship.

  7. Why do the likes if Polly and Ritchie never get prosecuted for fraud? They’re plainly attempting to deceive people in order to make financial gains.

  8. “Do you thinks banks don’t tip off their clients?”

    Nobody with a genuine working knowledge of tax would ask an idiotic question like that. Just for the record, tipping them off makes no impact at all except persuading a few people to approach HMRC to sort out a few things.

  9. Murphy is perhaps the best ever example of “In the kingdom of the blind man…”

    Polly, like Margaret Hodge, knows nothing and is functionally innumerate. If he sounds just slightly plausible and flatters her vanity then she will believe any shit he tells her. “Why isn’t Richard Murphy on the Board of HMRC?” Asks Polly/ Margaret. Ritchie does nothing to disabuse them of this misunderstanding, says nothing to suggest he is NOT actually a tax expert and never was. But then a chancer wouldn’t would he!

    So they will never know just how very, very stupid “Don’t they think banks tip off their clients?” is in this context.

  10. When I moved to France in January, I was requested by my Swiss Bank to send them a letter confirming they could reveal my account information to various authorities in compliance with the European Savings Directive, or something. I guess this was my tip off.

  11. From the comments on the Guardian, I most enjoyed how Murphy was described as “the accountancy equivalent of David Icke”.

  12. Surreptitious Evil

    Oh. Sorry.

    Also, Google’s Dublin office has over 2000 employees.

    But they’re only there to feed the leprechauns with Guiness. They don’t do any real business in the rest of the EU that would justify their tax base being in Eire.

    Or the LHTD might have made a wee mistake?


  13. Thankfully, MurphyRichards has contributed to the comments:

    “Yes, why aren’t I on the board of HMRC?

    I believe that it is all down to the fact that I am not a woman. HMRC are as sexist as Newsnight.”

  14. Dennis The Peasant

    “Yes, why aren’t I on the board of HMRC?”

    The more relevant question is why the ICAEW hasn’t separated Richard Murphy from his charter.

  15. A comment so Good it is worth reproducing here – sums up the agenda of the likes of Toynbee perfectly. The narrative must be preserved heedless of the facts.

    ‘The government has initiated so much anti-avoidance legislation–some of which goes far beyond what is reasonable–that you really have to wonder how long the Guardian can cling to this narrative.

    Using someone other than the fantasist Richard Murphy as your “tax expert” might be a start: there are literally thousands of people with better tax knowledge, none of whom have a vested interest in promoting wilful ignorance’

    And a perfect summary of Murphy’s qualifications for the HMRC board – Bravo!

  16. I think if the Murph was ever put on the HMRC board, he would resign shortly afterwards in frustration. He would then produce endless articles about how they will only apply the rule of law, not what he thinks the law should be.

  17. I bet, if he were really creative, Ritchie could count as part of the tax gap the avoidance of council tax on Polly’s Tuscan pad by virtue of it being located in Italy.

  18. Going back to taxing turnover; surely VAT already does that independently of profit or loss. Admittedly, intracommunity operations are a complication and being value added means the headline rate for each member of the chain is way over the effective pay-in rate, but my company pays on our billing.

    Am I stupid or is there something I am missing?

Leave a Reply

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