Occupy UK and UK Uncut s aims and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
Public Accounts Committee reports unfairness
Many conservative politicians try to rubbish grass roots movements, such as OccupyUKand UK Uncut, saying that they are loony lefties. However, perhaps these politicians are not so dismissive after a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee hearing into the relationship between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Big business.
Questioning the H.M.R.C.’s top lawyer, the MPs made him give his evidence on oath, because committee members felt they were not getting truthful answers to their questions. Commons committees have not required anyone to give evidence on oath in the last decade. The session was enquiring into certain tax deals, which H.M.R.C. negotiated with large companies, such as Goldman Sachs and Vodaphone. The HMRC’s deal with Vodaphone sparked a UK Uncut protest outside theirLondon offices early in 2011.
Similar deals are not available to ordinary taxpayers or to small businesses, H.M.R.C. tells them what they owe and they have to pay. There is no negotiation at all. The Committee said the deal negotiated between HMRC and Goldman Sachs saved the investment bank between 8 and 10 million pounds in 2011. A deal negotiated by HMRC and Vodaphone in which the company paid 1.2 billion pounds of tax arrears but not the usual interest payment. Tax arrears for ordinary workers and small business owners always attract interest payments.
Grass roots organizations, such as UK Uncut and Occupy UK, protest about this unfairness. Along with the Public Accounts Committee’s chairperson Margaret Hodge, protestors question why HMRC has a special relationship with big business allowing them to do deals in ways not possible for ordinary taxpayers or small businesses. The Committee’s report was highly critical of HMRC. The Prime Minister’s Office immediately issued a statement, on the report’s publication, disputing the committee’s findings and praising HMRC. The Prime Minister would do well to read the Public Accounts Committees report thoroughly, because it is not only protesters, who are realizing the inherent unfairness in British society. Why does HMRC treat big business differently to other taxpayers? Why does the government apparently support this behaviour? They really should listen to UK Uncut and OccupyUK; their demands may be a little woolly but in amongst the wool there are legitimate, justified, and justifiable, concerns. The British Public question David Cameron’s mantra “We are all in this together”, and give their answer how can we be when big business gets special privileges from HMRC?