HMRC and the great debt write-off

HMRC continues to write off debt

The taxman has lost out on £27.4billion over the past five years because of the shambles at HM Revenue & Customs, a report reveals. The economic downturn combined with an over-complicated tax code has left the troubled body unable to collect the money. The total is equivalent to £200 per year for each household in the country.

The study concluded that if all last year’s written-off tax of £5.9billion had been collected, it would amount to more than 1 per cent off standard VAT. Despite the alarming figures uncovered by the TaxPayers’ Alliance and, say the Institute of Directors, the situation is getting worse as last year, the amount of uncollected income tax was £1.35billion, which was 52 per cent higher than in 2006/07.

MPs found last month that HMRC was in deep crisis, citing ‘endemic delays’ and staff so overstretched that more than half of calls go unanswered. Letters are ignored for months. Now it has emerged that despite pledges to tackle underpayment, the tax office has been forced to write off massive unpaid bills. HMRC lost out most on VAT, writing off nearly £2billion in the last financial year alone. Missing out on corporation tax, capital gains tax and national insurance as well as losses on alcohol and tobacco duties, and tax credits contributed to the total. Worse still, there is a claim in Richard Murphy’s article below that “it is quite reasonable to presume that the total losses to tax evasion […] amount to at least £70 billion” (a year). The document can be accessed at the foot of this article.

Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘We need systematic reform to produce a simpler tax code. Some of this uncollected tax will be down to the recession but there is clearly a long-term problem as well. Tax shouldn’t be so taxing that even HMRC can’t keep on top of it.’ The report said: ‘The system is far too complicated. The tax code has grown massively. ‘The handbooks of tax legislation have sharply increased in length, indicating more and more complexity. Tolley’s Corporation Tax guide is 1,897 pages long. ‘The tax code is so long that it would take Steve Woodmore, the world’s fastest speaker, over five days straight to get through it.’

Remissions are one of two ways in which HMRC gives up trying to collect unpaid tax. They are debts capable of recovery but not pursued on grounds of cost or because of a tax office error. The second, write-offs, are debts with no practical means of recovery, such as from a firm which has gone out of business.

A spokesman for HMRC said: ‘We collect 99 per cent of debt that we are able to. Ninety per cent of money owed that is written off is caused by company liquidations.’

Note the words “that we are able to“. That says it all.

See this article on Universal Credit and the problems that lie ahead

Download this article on tax evasion by Richard Murphy FCA: rm_tax_justice_report_-_july_2010

Another black man is about to be executed in America …

The figures are staggering. More people are imprisoned in the United States than anywhere else in the world. There’s no escaping it. To make matters worse, the formidable prison population comprises over 45% black ethnic minority.  One in nine black American are in prison. More blacks and Latinos are executed than white people.

Estimated number of inmates held in custody in state or federal prison, or in local jails,by sex, race, and Hispanic origin, June 30, 2009.
Male Female
Year Total White Black Hispanic Total White Black Hispanic
 2009  2,096,300 693,800 841,000 442,000 201,200 92,100 64,800 32,300
Note: Detailed categories exclude persons who reported two or more races. All totals include persons under age 18.

Tonight, one of those men, a black American, is due to be executed by lethal injection. The scheduled execution in Georgia is due to take place at 7pm (midnight GMT). Troy Davis 42, was refused a request to take a polygraph test in a bid to prove his innocence and will now face execution. His legal team also filed a last-minute appeal questioning ballistics evidence against him but that was turned down by the state’s pardons board. Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer who was working as a security guard in Savannah, Georgia.

Mr MacPhail was shot dead when he rushed to help a homeless man who was being pistol whipped in a Burger King car park in an argument over a beer. Witnesses placed Davis at the crime scene and identified him as the gunman. Shell casings were linked to an earlier shooting that he was convicted of. But the weapon was never found and there was no other physical evidence such as blood or DNA to tie Davis to the crime. His lawyers claim he was a victim of mistaken identity. Some witnesses who gave evidence against him at his original trial have since recanted, while others have claimed that another man confessed to the killing.

Davis has received support from high profile figures including former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and former FBI Director William Sessions. However his conviction has been repeatedly upheld by state and federal courts. Last year, his lawyers failed to convince the US Supreme Court of his innocence and a judge decided new evidence was “largely smoke and mirrors.”

1,358 41.77%
394 12.12%
1,420 43.68%
79 2.43%

(Death Row Population Figures from NAACP-LDF “Death Row USA (January 1, 2011)”

race chart 3

Powerful words rendered meaningless by a morally impotent Prime Minister

Terminally ill people warned over possible benefit cut

Thousands of people across the UK that are terminally ill  are being sent letters telling them that their benefits may be cut in April, if the changes to legislation are approved byParliament.

A bill is currently being scrutinised by the House of Lords that will affect Contributory Employment Support Allowance, which could be time-limited to 12 months from April 2012. The changes will also be retrospective, meaning that those  on CESA for more than twelve months when the rule comes into force will have their benefit cut immediately.

The Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham passed a motion earlier this week demanding that their MPs oppose the arbitrary cut-off limit contained in the Welfare Bill. Equally the plans are likely to face stiff opposition in the Lords.

You will no doubt remember Cameron’s evocative speech on May 3rd last year, just before polling day, when he said “The test of a good society is how do you protect the poorest, the most vulnerable, the elderly, the frail.”

Powerful words rendered meaningless by a morally impotent Prime Minister.


See the earlier article regarding Cameron’s speech:

A poem for Dale Farm …

Gypsy creams

Unless you come of the traveller stock
That breaks the planning laws,
By building homes on greenbelt land:
Nay! Never on our shores!
Come one, come all, on verdant fields
– Where once the rabbits ran from foxes –
The trailer-homes of suburban folk
And double-glazed with window boxes!
No, these are not the Gypsy folk
But the backbone of red, white and blue,
But it isn’t right that the Gorgio stock
Should live as the Romany do.

Gorgios now invade the fields,
Could anything be more offensive?
But the money-men made gorgios’ homes
What they all said was too expensive.
Alack! What nightmare happening is this?
The post-Modern Traveller comes to pass,
With a trailer-home with pebble-dash
And a conservatory-end just made of glass?
No SUV to tow this home,
When an ‘M’ reg Skoda will surely do?
For it isn’t natural that the Gorgio blood
Should drive as the Romany do.

Unless you carry the traveller genes
You will never understand
The need for them to invade the fields
And set up home on greenbelt land.
And now we Gorgios do the same,
Uproot our kids and garden gnomes,
The trampoline and the porta-loo,
To embellish our terraced trailer-homes.
Compost bins and barbecues
And wheelie-bins for the rubbish too
For it isn’t fitting that the Gorgios
Should do the same as the Romany do.

If come you not of the Gypsy race
Think not of this as rank sedition,
For the caravan and an empty field
Will make you richer than rendition
To the urban sprawl you left behind,
Say Surbiton or Tooting Bec –
A year in your terraced trailer home
And you’ll be saying “What the heck!
At least the bills are left behind,
The mother-in-law and the tax man too!”
So there could be reason for the Gorgio race
To live their lives as the Romany do!

(With apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

n.b. Gorgio is the Romany word for a non-Gypsy in Britain

© 2011 – Henry Page, Newhaven, East Sussex

You’re not saddled with the problem …

An examination of, and a proposed solution for, the problems besetting the folk at Dale Farm …

Rule number one: establish terminology first. Thus the Oxford (Online) Dictionary definition is as follows: (source) noun

a person who is travelling or who often travels:
1 (usually Traveller) British a Gypsy or other nomadic person.
2. (also New Age traveller) British a person who holds New Age values and leads an itinerant and unconventional lifestyle.

Neither fits into the category of settling down on a piece of land with the intention of it being a permanent home, let alone breaking all the planning laws in doing so. Neither can it be described as racial because anyone could illegally make a permanent home on a plot of land where no permissions exist and ALL would be evicted.

Solution: Go to the local authority as a homeless person and start your claim for housing, sign on for benefit and (hey presto) you will achieve the same effect that you have at Dale Farm but minus the mini-civil war that seems about to take place. The downside to this, of course, is that you will be subject to the same scrutiny as the rest of us for the purposes of tax and benefit compliance.   –    p.s. Sell the horse

The ‘Guinness Book of the World’s Weirdest Whackos’ more like …

An American singer with fingernails over 3 metres long and a student with a 10cm tongue are included in the entries of the 2012 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

Aevin Dugas from New Orleans, Louisiana, is included for having grown the world’s largest natural afro. The Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Lenday admitted the bookcelebrates “the weirdest and wackiest”.

Doncaster man Rob Hull, 49, is also in the book for having 571 Daleks – even though he is not a Doctor Who fan. Dalek collector Mr Hull purchased his first replica 20 years ago, and claims he became “enchanted” with them after seeing them in the shops.

The Reverend  Darrell Best, of Chicago, Illinois is a new entry to the records with the fastest wedding chapel after he converted his 1940s fire truck into a wedding chapel on wheels. The wedding chapel entitled ‘The Best Man’, allows lovers to tie the knot while they are on the road and is capable of reaching speeds of 62mph.

The new edition of the famous record book also sees a new claimant to the prestigious title of longest fingernails in the world. Christine Walton, 45, from Las Vegas, has fingernails over 3 metres long on her left hand and almost 3 metres on her right hand. “I hate all the cleaning, but I do it. And the makeup, I only wear so much,” said the singer. The previous record-holder, Lee Redmond of Salt Lake City, lost her nails in a
road traffic accident in 2009.
What would Roy Castle have said about all this?

Q: When is a traveller not a traveller? A: When he doesn’t travel.

UN representative accuses council of ”violating international law” over the clearance of a travellers’ site

Yves Cabannes, a professor at UCL’s Development Planning Unit and an advisor to the UN has said that  ‘a study which he led on forced eviction found that at Dale Farm and the UK in general the Government is “violating international human rights law on three points:  […] the right to adequate housing, the right to be defended from forced eviction and discrimination.”

The internet – and the news for that matter – is full of adventitious ‘voices for the voiceless’, as if travellers ever presented themselves with an inability to put across their opinions. One such voice at Travellers’ Times Online, Gypsy rights activist Grattan Puxon has warned: “A dirty, neo-fascist wave, a tsunami of social exclusion is to break over the peaceful Dale Farm community, smashing up lives and drowning the hopes of another generation of Traveller children, presently attending local schools… the ugliest yet act of ethnic-cleansing by a British local authority against an outpost of Europe’s nascent Roma nation .At a time of huge cuts, when Essex county council is axing 450 jobs and 12 youth centres, why has this council chosen to spend an astronomical £18 million to evict the Gypsy families who have lived peacefully on their site for many years?” 

On WordPress, the platform for this blog, there is another ‘champion’ for the travellers called ‘Save Dale Farm’ which reports that “The Homes and Communities Agency offer of land and funding for alternative sites had been rejected by Basildon” without any sort of discussion as to why taxpayers should donate land and fund the sites for ‘travellers’. If establishing a home is simply down to buying a plot of land and putting down roots, I (and presumably millions like me) will follow in the rush to set up our own homes for £20,000 instead of £200,000. There is absolutely no rationale whatever for one race to be treated differently than anyone else when it comes to the roof over your head.

The irony here is that Dale Farm has existed for ten years and many of the residents have lived there for that length of time. One of the complaints from the residents in Dale Farm is that they and their children will be uprooted. So why in the name of sanity do they call themselves travellers? If they no longer wish to travel and live somewhere they can do what everyone else does, either buy or rent a home and their problem is solved. What is apparent to the rest of us is that there is one class of person in the UK that expects to ride a coach and horses through the planning laws as a way of ‘putting down roots’ on the cheap.