Yes, Prem Sikka is an idiot

Prem Sikka, professor of accounting at Sheffield University, said: “This shows just how far removed the senior leadership of HMRC are from public opinion. This policy provides absolutely no deterrent to tax cheats.”

Hmm, what?

Richard Las, the deputy director of HMRC in charge of organised crime, said that “very wealthy and prominent members of the community” were afraid of the “reputational damage” that a criminal trial for fraud, money-laundering or tax evasion would bring.

He admitted that “criminal justice” was never a “default option” for HMRC. “We use it where it is necessary and it will have the greatest effect,” Las said.

“When deciding whether to deploy our resources, we try to understand what motivates different types of offenders. For example, some tax offenders are very wealthy, prominent members of the community. We know that these types of people do not want the reputational damage of custodial sentences, and we can use that to our advantage.”

The news raises fresh questions about the approach of HMRC, which has been criticised for failing to prosecute high-profile people with financial interests in offshore tax havens.

What HMRC has actually said is that we’ll use whatever we can to make the bastards cough up. And if it’s the threat of public shame which will then we use that. If that won’t work then sure, we go to the expense of prosecution and the courts.

What the hell else do you want us to do?

17 thoughts on “Yes, Prem Sikka is an idiot”

  1. Prem Sikka, professor of accounting at Sheffield University

    How does one become a ‘professor’ of accounting? Once you’ve learned that debits go in the column nearest the window – what else is there? Is this a new job opportunity for Spud-u-dislike? At least he actually knows something (not a lot) about accounting.

  2. We are talking tax evasion not avoidance? So it’s a crime? So make the bastards pay.then try them for the crime. And make them pay for the trial on top.

  3. Oh for fuck’s sake.

    Every time this comes up I have to point out that this is NOT something HMRC have decided. If follows the so called ‘Hansard doctrine’ which has been around since at least the 1940s and is a political policy endorsed by every single Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    The burden of proving tax evasion is a tough one- as high profile cases such as Harry Rednapp and before him Ken Dodd show. Because it often hangs on INTENT.

    So it is policy that IF a taxpayer admits what they have been up to and co-operates with an HMRC enquiry then in return HMRC promise not to prosecute.

    The choice is –

    Quick settlement, tax, interest, penalties on to the next one

    OR

    Lengthy trial where IF THEY WIN then tax and interest will be the same and penalties might be the same, or there might be some custodial time, maybe, or maybe HMRC loses the case and looks a right tit.

    AND THIS POLICY IS POLITICALLY DRIVEN and based on reasonable expediency.

    Prem Sikka either knows this, in which case he’s a mendacious cvnt, or he doesn’t know it in which case he’s an ignorant cvnt.

  4. @Chris Miller

    There might be a reasonable question about whether university is the best place for providing training in accountancy. But in terms of the complexity of the subject and the scope of academic research into its theory and practice, I can’t see that having a professor of accounting is any more egregious than a professor of law.

  5. How does one become a ‘professor’ of accounting? Once you’ve learned that debits go in the column nearest the window – what else is there? Is this a new job opportunity for Spud-u-dislike? At least he actually knows something (not a lot) about accounting.

    Unlike Spud, Prem Sikka did actually earn his professorship, by publishing research in peer-reviewed journals.

  6. ‘criticised for failing to prosecute high-profile people with financial interests in offshore tax havens’

    Then it wouldn’t be a ‘haven.’

  7. “…the approach of HMRC, which has been criticised for failing to prosecute high-profile people with financial interests in offshore tax havens.”

    It isn’t illegal to have financial interests in offshore tax havens.

  8. In my experience of interviewing people for accounting jobs all of those with accounting/finance degrees severely lacked practical knowledge and skills and sometimes failed to understand basic concepts. I maybe showing professional bias of course not having gone the degree route myself.

  9. Unlike Spud, Prem Sikka did actually earn his professorship, by publishing research in peer-reviewed journals.

    And so did every professor of grievance studies.

  10. @AndyC, September 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    +1

    DWP tends to do the same.

    It’s common sense and most efficient use of resources. Being vindictive benefits nobody.

  11. “This policy provides absolutely no deterrent to tax cheats.”

    I don’t know, here in the US we’ve had tons of tax cheats cough up once they were appointed to senior government positions by this or that incoming President once the media got around to looking into their history.

  12. AndyC has it.

    It’s much, much more difficult to get a successful criminal prosecution; as he says, you have to prove criminal intent, and have to prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

    It’s also shockingly expensive, and no guarantee of success; if the taxpayer is worth pursuing, he’ll have the resources to lawyer up heavily.

    In contrast, fines within the tax Acts are civil penalties, so you only have to prove that they’ve done it, not that they did so with intent, and you only have to prove on a balance of probabilities. Much easier. And the fines can be huge.

    So not surprising that HMRC do a deal.

  13. Don’t forget this man has co- authored pieces of work with Richard Murphy and appeared on a similar platform so it suggests even if not evil himself he clearly has no problem being close to or abetting it. Andy C has the reality correct but you must understand for fanatics like this using a ‘tax haven’ means you are guilty – does not matter about the charge just by having an account there you are ‘guilty’. Bear in mind also that for Murphy and Sitka all your earnings are the property of the state which in its benevolence gives you the freedom to earn an income (his classic phrase – ‘look at Somalia for what happens in a state’s absence) therefore HMRC should be looking to tax you at 100% then give you a rebate, potentially according to your ‘contribution to civil society’ – ‘Tax deniers’ will get almost nothing…

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