The National Audit Office issued a report yesterday that suggested that one in three of the richest people in Britain is under investigation by HM Revenue & Customs with the total tax subject to enquiry amounting to £1.9bn. Headlines have followed.
There are issues to raise here. First, the fact that there has been only one prosecution resulting from investigations of the UK’s super rich is staggering: it is very clear that there have been significant numbers of tax haven abuse investigations that have been settled by cosy deals sanctioned during the Hartnett era at HMRC that have left the impression that for tax purposes there is one rule for the rich and other for everyone else.
Apparently Richie doesn’t know that this is long standing policy. Determined by the politicians:
It’s known as the ‘Hansard extract’.
An undertaken given, at the start of an HMRC investigation, that if full co-operation and full disclosure are given then HMRC will NOT prosecute.
This works well. Taxpayers want to co-operate, courts are under less pressure, HMRC resources are used at what they are supposed to be doing. Getting money in.
Why’s in called the “Hansard Extract”? Because it is quite literally an extract from Hansard from a statement made in the House of Commons. First made on 5 October 1944 as official government policy and subsequently re-affirmed many times since.
That’s official government policy. If you co-operate, we won’t prosecute.
Which is why so few cases end in prosecution.
The idea that there’s only been one ‘scalp’ is utter nonsense There will have been lots of settlements where people co-operated.
If people want more cases (such as Harry Rednap’s) which achieved nothing then fine, go ahead. No extra tax will be collected, no penalties higher than would be achieved in a civil settlement.