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HMRC reports success in tax avoidance clampdown

Wonder of wonders, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs actually reported some good news for a change: its tax avoidance clampdown seems to be working.

It’s usually a cold day in Hell when I welcome a new announcement from the tax authority, but this time HMRC actually has some good news. In fact, it turns out that tax avoidance schemes have fallen to an all-time low after dropping by more than a third over the last 12 months.

Now a jaded and cynical geezer like myself would be quick to point out that HMRC can only count the tax avoidance schemes that it actually became aware of, and that the number of real schemes still being operated by fly-by-night accountancy firms could still be quite high. Despite that inclination, there’s enough of an optimist left in my withered husk of a soul that is cautiously optimistic that the taxman is actually on to something here for once.

An HMRC official said recently that firms are shying away from tax avoidance schemes and instead are looking for other options. Some of these new strategies as adopted by larger firms are in a legal grey area – even more so than tax avoidance schemes, mind you – but are being put to bed as quickly as possible. A great example of this is how utility firms tried to weasel out of the whole thing by trying to claim capital allowances for their customers’ past expenditures, but some legislation was put into effect this past May to prevent this kind of legal chicanery.

So yes, it does look like the Government is actually effecting some actual positive change in this matter. Will it have a lasting effect? Well your guess is as good as mine, but like I said – I’m cautiously optimistic. At the same time do you see the Government aggressively pursuing tax avoidance from sources such as large multinationals that skip out on millions or even billions of unpaid taxes every year through well-exploited loopholes? Of course not – the Government is too bleeding scared of these big corporations, especially since they routinely threaten to pull up tent stakes and take their custom elsewhere, thus stripping Heaven knows how many jobs away from hapless British workers. It’s nice to live in such a corporate oligarchy, innit?

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