HM Revenue & Customs (Photo credit: jam_90s)
The answer to Dr Alf’s perfectly reasonable question is because George Osborne has large numbers of friends engaged in paying as little tax as possible and because he knows that if he starts to tackle tax evasion by multinationals (practically all of them), that they will re-base themselves in more tax efficient locations, as Sir Richard Branson, Sir Ralph Halpern, Sir Philip Green, David Coulthard, the former racing driver, Glaxo Smith Kline, the Barclay Brothers, Lord Vestey, Union International Group, Hanson Trust and most of the top media groups have already done.
State Street, the American company tasked by the Government to manage the funds in Stakeholder Pensions under “Auto Enrollment”, are based in the Dublin Financial District as are HSBC, BT PLC, Facebook, Linked In, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Mandiant and a host of British and American companies who “book sales” in Eire rather than the UK.
I have seen the buildings myself, earlier in the Summer, during a short Citybreak yet the Government did nothing because they knew that these companies had been secretly promised just 3% Corporation Tax by the Irish Government.
HMRC does nothing because they lack the trained staff capable of out-thinking Big 4 accountancy practices and because they themselves use offshore special purpose vehicles devised by PWC and KPMG for their own buildings (See Private Eye editions and Google Mapeley Steps in Bermuda).
Then, there is the revolving door between the Big 4 and HMRC, whereby on one day a Big 4 partner will be devising aggressive tax avoidance schemes and on another he or she is working for HMRC as a poacher turned gamekeeper.
Whilst they “game-keep” to close down the first set of schemes, their colleagues devise many more new ones in such quantity that HMRC could never keep up.
It is the civilized version of Krupp and Sir Basil Zaharoff working to produce armor-piercing shells to a South American dictatorship on one day, and then selling tough armor plate to the rivals of those countries for use on battleships.
The system works in reverse as people like Dave Harnett the former CEO of the HMRC advise multinationals on tax avoidance.
Whilst working for HMRC before this, he let Vodaphone off a £6 billion gbp tax bill against the legal advice of HMRC’s lawyers and refused to talk about this and companies like Eon who have not paid any Corporation Tax for the past 8 years according to Margaret Hodge at the Public Accounts Committee.
For the super wealthy and large multinationals, tax is optional and unless you get Global Governance, a single currency for the whole world and global tax enforcement it will always be like that despite all the huffing,puffing and mock indignation by politicians.
The late Leona Helmsley put it best “Little people pay taxes”.