The rich get richer and the poor get poorer appears to be the mantra of HMRC as a parliamentary watchdog has claimed they offer advice to the super-rich, so they can pay less tax. It isn’t the politics of envy, it is simply unfair.
It is feared that this will undermine the entire tax system, and lead to those further down the chain, possibly those on self-assessment, feeling the system is broken, and why should they pay their fair share.
The Commons public accounts committee says failure to crack down on wealthy tax dodgers undermines confidence in system. The committee said that HMRC collected £1bn less tax from UK’s super-rich since 2009.
The Committee revealed that the number of super rich (worth at least £20million) has in fact risen from 5,900 in 2009 to 6,500 in 2015.
However, the amount they paid in income tax has fallen over the same period from £4.4 billion to £3.5 billion. The more super rich there are in the UK the less they seemingly pay in tax.
The committee said: “HMRC repeatedly told us that it does not give advice to taxpayers. However, we were not convinced by its assertion that there is a clear line between giving its view on potential transactions and giving tax advice, and we do not think there is enough clarity about what customer relationship managers can and cannot do. In addition, while calls from most taxpayers to HMRC call centres are recorded routinely, meetings and phone calls with high net worth individuals are not recorded.”
Shockingly the committee said income tax paid by high-net worth individuals fell by £1 billion (20%) and the receipts from all other taxpayers increased by £23 billion (9%).
The report continues in a scathing attack on the HMRC and its dealings with the wealthiest elites in the UK: “HMRC told us that its compliance work with high net worth individuals has been a success. Its approach to high net worth individuals has changed over time and it now appears to be taking a tougher line with those who break the rules.
‘However, HMRC publishes little information about the approaches it takes or the number of criminal investigations and prosecutions in progress. The lack of transparency leaves the department open to the perception that, in its dealings with taxpayers, there is one rule for the rich and another for everyone else.’