Richard Murphy alerted me to an article on AccountingWeb that talks about the trust gap between HMRC and just about everyone else. Loughlin Hickey - global tax partner at KPMG - made the following remark:
"Hickey warned that the tax gap - in essence the difference between what ought to be paid by taxpayers given a certain level of economic activity versus what is collected - will widen unless there is greater trust between tax collector and taxpayer."
Hmm - is that's how KPMG justifies flogging dodgy tax schemes?
The report notes Hickey as remarking that:
"In order to bridge the gap HMRC, taxpayers and HMRC must change behaviours."
If it wasn't so serious the whole thing would be laughable. Hickey's answers are clueless. Hickey talks about 'formal representation' by business on policy committees, publishing policies and other rubbish. This is yet another example of people who are out of touch with reality pontificating in ways that government loves to hear and which will be utterly pointless. It makes me want to puke. Instead, how about:
- Injecting a dose of good old fashioned ethics and shoving it into the KPMG (and other Big Four) tax training programmes - preferably on day one, two, three through to the end? If they can find an ethics reference work.
- HMRC putting an end to its strutting around with sledgehammers to crack nuts? (seen the results of recent IR35 reviews?)
- HMRC advising Brown on policies that aren't constantly tainted with the 'stealth tax' moniker?
- Framing legislation that's easy to understand, logical and effective instead of the patchwork quilt that keeps tax planners busy?
- Dumping the tax red tape that's burying business and professionals alike?
- Having a sensible policy on 'file by Internet' instead of the FU approach?
- All sides being honest - just for a change - and dispensing with the culture of blame that informs so much of what HMRC is currently doing and against which so many practitioners feel powerless to fight?
- Oh yes - and how about communicating openly with everyone with an interest in this area and actually listening to the very customers government likes to talk about yet seems clueless to address?
Let's face it - everyone resents paying tax at some level. But when the tax regime becomes mired on all sides, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that taxpayers will be more than willing to go the extra mile to avoid what they see as an unfair system. That's what needs addressing and it's simple to do. I'll happily host that blog.
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