16 June 2011
(For immediate release)
HMRC lets big business 'off the hook', says union
The Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) has described today's disclosure of HM Revenue and Customs' detailed plans for the next few year, which show a crackdown on evasion by small and medium-sized businesses but fewer resources to tackle avoidance by multi-nationals and the wealthy, as letting big businesses "off the hook". ARC is the union representing senior HM Revenue and Customs staff.
In Autumn the Government announced, as part of its spending review that HMRC would be cut by more than £3bn, although some limited "re-investment" was said to be targeting fraud. Only now have detailed plans emerged, and these show further steep reductions in the senior grades - the grades that deal primarily with large business and the wealthy.
Graham Black, ARC President, said:
"This is just as we feared. HMRC is reducing by a further 15% to around half the size it was a few years ago. And while some extra resources are being used, rightly, to target fraud, the number of senior staff capable of dealing with complex avoidance and evasion will tumble yet further, by over 400.
"There is a huge tax gap, caused in part by well-advised businesses and individuals stepping aside from taking their share of the pain. Why should banks and major businesses be let off the hook, when most citizens in the UK pay their fair share in taxation? The country cannot afford this madness. The Government is acting like an unhinged Robin Hood - taking from the poor and giving to the rich".
Notes for editors
1. The Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) is a union representing senior staff in HM Revenue and Customs, including tax inspectors, accountants, lawyers, managers and other leading professionals. ARC represents around 2,600 members in HMRC at grade 7 and above, and also trainees in grade 7 entry schemes. It is also a section of the FDA.
2. The FDA is the trade union and professional body representing 18,000 of the UK's senior civil and public servants. Our members include policy advisors, senior managers, tax inspectors, economists, statisticians, accountants, special advisers, government lawyers, diplomats, crown prosecutors and NHS managers.
3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".
4. ARC published a report Being Bold - a Radical Approach to Raising Revenue and Defeating the Deficit in September 2010. It led the way in urging the Government to increase the number of tax professionals in HMRC to tackle tax cheats and raise funds for the Exchequer. Despite pledges for additional reinvestment (£917m), regrettably, the Government announced a month later that HMRC resources would be cut by 15% over the next four years. This adds up to ten years of successive cuts.
5. ARC members are senior HMRC professionals engaged in work that brings in the majority of the £12bn tax gap closure delivered by HMRC last year. This work is incredibly cost effective. An ARC member earning £50k can expect to generate additional yield of at least £1.5m each year; a return of 30 times their cost. For every £1 of yield the Exchequer benefits by an additional £1 through the deterrent effect of this work both on the subject of the compliance intervention and on those who might be tempted to cheat on their taxes. The recent public outrage over tax avoidance and evasion demonstrates that people want a tax system that is fair to all. This can only be achieved if HMRC has sufficient resources to tackle tax avoidance and evasion across all sectors.
6. Graham Black, ARC President, is available for comment.
7. For further information contact:
- Graham Black, ARC President, tel: 020 7401 5559 or 07766 497976.
- Debbie Stamper, ARC officer, tel: 020 7401 5555.
- Graham Flew, ARC officer, tel: 020 7401 5555.