Is the tax man going soft?

The Revenue certainly has effective PR.  The newspapers have been full in recent times with details of rich people who, legally, avoid paying tax.  Jimmy Carr is perhaps the most extreme example.  I am sure that, as a result of this, people do consider the morality of everyone paying their fair share of taxes to a much greater degree.  I have certainly seen a change in people’s attitudes, particularly in new clients who come to see me.  If we’re honest, most of us think that WE should be able to pay the minimum, yet when it comes to other people, they should pay their taxes… shouldn’t they?

My own opinion is that the law determines my fair share of tax and is in fact specifically designed to encourage us to save tax.  For instance we are encouraged to put money into pensions which allows us to avoid some tax.

At the same time the number of cases of serious tax avoidance (where over £50,000 is lost in tax) the Revenue are bringing fell by a quarter in 2011/12 compared to 2010/11.  I have anecdotal evidence that cases have reduced further since then.

If this actually is the Revenue’s approach my feelings with respect to it are mixed.  As a citizen and a tax payer, I believe that proper compliance is essential – which means the Revenue taking serious and credible actions. But, as an Accountant I have no interest in MY clients being investigated.  So I guess my position is that my clients need minimal investigations …but other people, well they should be investigated!

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