Taxation magazine has published an article written by ARC President – and FDA Vice President – Gareth Hills, on the recent Parliamentary ARC event ‘Delivering for the Nation: Tax myths, challenges and opportunities’.
Hills’ piece is one of four from tax professionals responding to the recent BBC Panorama report on avoidance.
As the article is only available to registered users of the Taxationwebsite, the piece written by Hills is reproduced below:
The Panorama programme was a wasted opportunity, writes Gareth Hills.
Apparently, Panorama attracts an average audience of 2.5m to 3m and it could have been a great chance to start some serious educational and reporting work on complex tax issues.
Instead, the programme resorted to sensationalism, for example by conflating and confusing the use of legitimate reliefs with the statutory maternity pay avoidance that David Heaton was marketing. It seemed to give the mistaken impression that HMRC had recruited and appointed David Heaton to an HMRC committee.
While the programme did address some serious issues, such as the patent box, it failed to give the context. Nothing was said about the pros and cons of adopting measures like the patent box, and its possible international impact; nor did the programme suggest there were other reliefs available for small businesses, for example research and development credits.
Contrast Panorama’s approach with that of the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC), a union representing staff at HMRC.
Last week, it hosted an invitation-only Westminster event to increase understanding on reducing the tax gap, especially tackling high-end avoidance.
Brief presentations were made by David Gauke MP, Catherine McKinnell MP, shadow exchequer secretary, Stephen Williams MP, chairman of the Liberal Democrats back bench Treasury Committee and Richard Miller, chief executive, ActionAid UK, who spoke about the implications of tax avoidance for developing countries.
The event was chaired by Vanessa Houlder, tax correspondent at the Financial Times.
An intellectually stimulating debate, it was just the start of work to debunk tax myths and increase public awareness on tax, with a consensus emerging that closing the tax gap is imperative in times of austerity.
While others will continue to posture and sensationalise, ARC will roll up its sleeves and carry on working with professional bodies and non-governmental organisations to show why tax matters and that by investing in key personnel in HMRC, the government would be guaranteed a significant return.
This would allow it to reduce the deficit, avoid further austerity measures or fund economic recovery and growth.’
Read the full article online: