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News briefing, 3 May 2013

May 3, 2013, 07:07 AM
Authors : Taxation
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Post date : May 3, 2013, 07:07 AM

Our weekly comments on tax stories by the national press

Avoidance & evasion

The Charity Commission has launched a major investigation after some of the UK’s best known charities are being used by offshore trusts to shelter hundreds of millions of pounds from the tax authorities.
Guardian; Times

There is clearly a problem when such an investigation is launched well after the harm has been done; it is not clear whether the fault lies in the regulator or in the regulatory system. Taxation would like to put on record that it wholeheartedly agrees with Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge that this is a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Ironically, it appears the organisations that were unwittingly connected to the offshore trusts may have a claim on the funds.

British overseas territories including Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands have bowed to pressure for greater tax transparency by agreeing to automatically share information with the UK.
Financial Times

Offshore financial centres have to come to realise they must bow to global pressure to avoid being exploited by tax evaders, with all the reputational risk that carries. Those who have something to declare ought to come forward now.


Four secret agreements drawn up between government officials and corporations to settle tax disputes were worth £4.5bn in total, according to a leaked document sent by ex-HMRC boss Dave Hartnett to David Gauke, the Exchequer secretary to the Treasury.
Guardian; Financial Times; Financial Times

The National Audit Office investigated the deals and concluded in December that the amounts of tax paid were reasonable.

Income tax

The prime minister, David Cameron, could publish plans to introduce a tax break for married couples as early as November, according to senior Downing Street sources.

Cameron is keen to provide a small tax break – likely worth around £150 – for married couples who pay at the basic rate. Hitting the £10,000 personal allowance frees him, under the coalition agreement, to make progress on transferable allowances, so an announcement might be made in the autumn statement… but don’t count on it.

More than 500,000 taxpayers are facing £10-a-daily penalties for failing to file their 2011/12 self-assessment returns on time.
Times; Financial Times

The daily penalty kicked in on 1 May, but those who missed the 31 January deadline will have already been charged a £100 penalty. Taxpayers who haven’t submitted their 2011/12 returns should do so immediately or contact HMRC to explain why they should not be in self assessment.

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