There’s never a taxman around when you need one. Like when HMRC can’t recover £120bn in tax because its budget has been slashed and 1000s of jobs will be cut.
On the day when the government claims its VAT rise to 20% is “progressive”, the 38 Degrees campaign has funded ads in the national press claiming £120bn in tax is lost every year to the “tax avoidance industry”.
Estimates predict a further 13,000 jobs will be lost at HMRC by 2013 on top of resource spending cuts of 15% and capital spending cuts of 44%. The Public and Commercial Services Union say a programme of office closures and job cuts by HMRC could see over 200 offices closed across the UK and 25,000 job cuts by 2011.
Writing in AccountingWeb, Simon Sweetman, a tax investigations specialist, claimed that HMRC contact centres ‘are almost impossible for unrepresented taxpayers to reach by phone’, HMRC is ‘rushing staff from one job to another as bits of the fire threaten to get out of control’, and there had been an ‘extensive de-skilling of the workforce from the Board downwards’.
He added: ‘Now, it appears, HMRC will make a 25% cut by swapping people for more computers. Well, pardon me, but that seems to have been the story of the last ten years, and it may have saved some money but it has brought the organisation to its knees.’
Meanwhile Vodafone, Arcadia, Barclays, HSBC and others have been criticised and targetted by protesters for their offshore tax avoidance schemes run by what the BBC’s File on 4 called ‘well-paid armies of lawyers and accountants which large companies and banks now muster to help cut their taxes’.