The super-rich and big business are allowed to avoid paying tax while ordinary people are not. It’s a hard theory to dispute when the HSBC tax avoidance scandal has made such a splash. But, at long last, a government minister has demanded an overhaul of the HMRC’s culture.
Norman Lamb stands firm for ordinary people
Norman Lamb, who was disgusted by the HSBC Swiss tax avoidance scandal, believes the tax department isn’t currently doing enough to crack down on tax avoiders. Mr Lamb, a Liberal Democrat and North Norfolk MP, pointed out the unfair double standards displayed by HMRC and asked the government to take a long, hard look at the revenue’s dysfunctional culture.
In his words: “It seems to me that if you seek to evade…that is in effect stealing from the state, and there should be an absolute expectation that you get prosecuted, and I don’t think that is the case at the moment.”
UK government does nothing for four years
The HSBC scandal was originally revealed by Hervé Falciani, a French IT expert who discovered it in 2007 after hacking into customer files. The French authorities detained him but Falciani wasn’t extradited and the files were only used to identify and prosecute French tax dodgers.
Since then the UK government has come under fire for inaction but they seem to be too busy blaming the previous Labour government to do much about it. On the other hand the government admits it was first given the information about HSBC in 2010, which begs a very valid question: why did they do nothing for so long? Is it a case of those in power looking after their own kind?
Surely fairness isn’t a lot to ask?
The leaked materials revealed Swiss bank accounts belonging to 7,000 or so very wealthy British citizens. If we needed more proof that HMRC are less interested in collecting tax from the rich than they are from ordinary folk, here it is.
Not that ordinary folk should be allowed to avoid tax any more than big brands and the wealthy… all the taxpaying public is asking for is fairness and equality, neither of which is a lot to ask.