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Raising money for tax charities

05 March 2019 / Allison Plager
Issue: 4686 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
All for charity

Agala dinner hosted by the tax charities and organised on their behalf by Deloitte is expected to raise more than £50,000 for the Bridge the Gap campaign in aid of TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People. Held at the Banking Hall in the city of London, 18 firms bought tables. These included the big four as well as top ten accountancy firms and 11 firms of solicitors. A three-course dinner was served with a signature main dish from Michel Roux Jr who introduced it and also visited each table.

Penny Hamilton, incoming chair of Tax Help for Older People, introduced the event. She called for members of the tax profession to donate to the tax charities – after all, tax provides a stimulating, well-paid career. She said it was great to have one-off donations but ideally a regular stream of income is needed. ‘These are our charities and if we don’t support them who else will?’

Matt Ellis, managing partner for tax at Deloitte, explained why the tax charities need more funding. Currently, TaxAid can have its phone lines open for only two hours a day but many more people would benefit from its help. He recognised the contribution to TaxAid from HMRC, which is its main funder, but said this sum was reducing so more money was needed. He ended by asking firms to think about how they could fundraise and use their influence to help the charities.

Dominic Robertson, corporate tax partner and co-head of tax disputes at Slaughter and May, said that tax lawyers are usually happy to disagree with tax accountants, but on this occasion, he agreed with everything Matt had said. It was so important to help people who cannot afford to pay for advice.

The guest speaker was Sir Edward Troup, former executive chair and first permanent secretary at HMRC. He posed the question: ‘Why are the tax charities needed?’ He put forward a few reasons including, for example, the distant relationship between ministers and officials. The lawmakers’ grip on the real world is not always perfect. It is also possible to blame HMRC for the problems people have with tax, but the department would point to ministers who are constantly tinkering with the law. Then there is the secret language and arcane tax system that the public has to deal with.

But Sir Edward’s serious point was that life is complex. People have no time and various impediments that make it hard for them to deal with tax. They may have two or three jobs or not have English as their first language. These are the people that TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People want to help when tax troubles mount up. It is not just that ministers make tax difficult – life is difficult.

A fabulous evening was had by all who attended – excellent company and delicious food in glamorous surroundings. But the overwhelming message of the event was that the tax charities are vital, do excellent work but, more than anything, need donations to enable them to keep going.

Issue: 4686 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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