Prosecuting corporate tax dodgers is simply not a priority for the Government, on the other hand, attacking public services is top of their list of priorities. MPs on the public accounts committee just last week criticised HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for their “woefully inadequate” efforts to tackle tax evasion.
Massive, regressive, cuts in funding for HMRC have meant that very few offshore tax evaders are now prosecuted by the tax office. This means that there is “no credible punishment to deter people from breaking the law” with regard to tax evasion. The public accounts committee’s report stated:
“Incredibly, there have been only 11 prosecutions in relation to offshore tax evasion since 2010, and only one individual from the Falciani list (of some 3,600 potential UK tax evaders whose Swiss bank account details were leaked by a former employee of HSBC) has been prosecuted.”
This inability to make the rich pay the tax they owe (£120 billion each year) is intimately related to the axing of more than 10,000 jobs from HMRC over the last five years.
Despite widespread opposition from staff, the public and politicians, the Government cuts with wreckless abandon. In their latest attack upon the ability of HMRC to function for the public good, we hear that the jobs of the 710 workers at Saxon House, in Leicester, are now on the line, and thousands more across the country are threatened (November 13, Leicester Mercury).
Contrary to cuts, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
This is why PCS have pledged to support shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s review of HMRC’s role and resources because, as they explain, “a fundamental analysis of this key department is long overdue.”
The Tories however would prefer that such a democratic review not take place. Instead they would prefer that the public just moan about the high pay of a handful of public sector workers.
Just this week the Mercury ran two articles based upon information provided by the Corporate front group known as the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which regularly compiles and publicises what they call a “Public Sector Rich List”.
No surprise then that the funders of this “Alliance of the rich” also tend to fund the Conservative Party. Moreover, ironically, in 2009 it was revealed in the national press that a leading board member of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Alexander Heath, had not paid British tax for years!
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on November 14.