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CIOT president slams 'ill-informed' media

17 April 2012
Categories: News , Anthony Thomas , Budget 2012 , charity tax , Peter Oborne
Helpful debate is lacking, says Thomas

The media’s coverage of taxation is frequently derogatory and deceiving, the president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has claimed in a ferocious attack on the press and politicians.

Speaking as the furore over the chancellor’s so-called charity tax continued to generate headlines in the front pages of the national papers, Anthony Thomas criticised reporting of tax issues.

‘Much of it is ill-informed, ill-conceived, ill-thought out, and often deliberately misleading, made by people who are more interested in getting a memorable soundbite or sensational newspaper headlines,’ he said.

Mr Thomas selected as evidence for his case a remark by Daily Telegraph columnist Peter Oborne, who on Budget day last month wrote, ‘There are few more worthless specimens of humanity than tax accountants and tax lawyers, and if some of them are put out of business… so much the better.’

Such comments ‘do nothing to improve understanding of the way in which our tax system functions’, the CIOT president told the delegates at the body’s spring conference in Cambridge.

He poured equal scorn on the ‘unhelpful and regrettable’ manner in which tax evasion and tax avoidance are regularly conflated – often deliberately and by legislators and civil servants.

‘When will politicians and senior Revenue officials state clearly that tax evasion is illegal [and] tax avoidance is not?’ asked Mr Thomas, adding that too many prominent individuals’ views ‘do not move the debate on, and nor do they encourage our profession to engage with the tax authorities in helping better shape an already dysfunctional tax system creaking at the seams.’

Having had as the theme for his year in office the reinforcement of trust between taxpayers and HMRC, Mr Thomas stressed the intermediary role of tax professionals.

‘We are at the forefront of demystifying the ever growing complex tax legislation for the benefit of everyone: the many unrepresented citizens, the low income taxpayers and the growing vulnerable sectors of society,’ he told conference delegates.

‘Our members do not act just for the wealthy; they represent a miniscule percentage of our clients. Most of our time and efforts are directed toward ordinary taxpayers, assisting them to get to grips with a hugely complex and bewildering system.’


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