Quote of the Day

Marina Hyde on why UK tax is so untaxing

“The Hong Kong tax code, widely held by tax lawyers to be the most admirably efficient in the world, is 276 pages long. The British tax code, rapidly beginning to look like the most disingenuous in the world, is currently in excess of 17,000 pages.  It has more than trebled in size since 1997.”

Owen Jones Distances Himself From Guardian

 

Challenged by Toby Young on the Daily Politics, Owen Jones swerved the question of the Guardian attacking offshore tax shelters whilst sheltering half-a-billion of its assets in the Caymans:

“I am not responsible for my employer’s tax affairs.”

While writing in today’s paper that “while the poor’s smallest misdemeanours are punished, the rich are able to draft the loopholes they then use to avoid tax”…

FLASHBACK: When the Milibands Avoided Tax

Miliband worded this answer about the Deed of Variation on his family home very carefully:

“This is something my mother did 20 years ago. That was a decision she made. Let me just say this: I’ve paid tax as a result of that transaction, I’ve avoided no tax in that.”

A Deed of Variation has the sole purpose of saving tax. That Ed paid capital gains tax is irrelevant – the Miliband family avoided paying in some part inheritance tax (how much is still unclear).

From the Sunday Times, 19 September 2004:

“DAVID MILIBAND, the schools minister, and his brother Ed, the chancellor’s economic adviser, are set to avoid paying thousands of pounds in tax through an Inland Revenue loophole which the Labour party pledged to close. 

The brothers, Labour’s rising stars, are poised to benefit after their family set up a scheme to share ownership of the family’s Pounds 1.3m townhouse in north London which was sold recently.

Accountants and the Inland Revenue say the scheme established by the Milibands is used to reduce inheritance tax.

The move is particularly controversial for Ed Miliband who is chairman of the council of economic advisers responsible for co-ordinating the Treasury’s long-term policy on behalf of Gordon Brown, the chancellor.”

The Sunday Times has learnt that after Ralph Miliband, the socialist father of David and Ed, died in 1994, he transferred almost all his assets, including homes in London and Oxfordshire, to his wife.

However, after taking professional advice, the family is understood to have posthumously rewritten his will to give 20% of the London home to both David and Ed.

David has declared a “20% share of family home in London” on the MPs’ register of interests since 2002.

This scheme is called a “deed of variation” and was highlighted by the chancellor in opposition as an unacceptable way in which the wealthy avoid paying death duties.

It allows people to inherit assets tax-free even if this goes against the wishes of the deceased. Had Ralph Miliband’s will not been altered, David and Ed would have inherited the house (or the money raised from its sale) when their mother Marion died and would have faced a tax bill equivalent to 40% of its value.

Instead they were able to cash in on their stakes when the family’s four bedroom townhouse in Primrose Hill, north London, was sold earlier in the summer.

For the record…

Lord Fink Responds to Miliband “Dodgy” Climb Down

Ed Miliband just clearly said that he was not calling Lord Fink dodgy. The vanilla peer has responded:

“Yesterday I challenged Ed Miliband to repeat the accusations he made in the Commons – that I used an HSBC bank account to avoid tax and that I was a “dodgy donor.”He did not. This is a major climbdown by a man who is willing to smear without getting his facts straight.”

Fink/the Tories are now focussing on the word dodgy. Which was not mentioned in his letter yesterday….

Miliband Thinks Fink Tax Issue “Milly Dowler Moment”

miliband-robinson

Nick Robinson is reporting that over Lord Fink’s taxes “The Labour leader’s aides say that he sees this as another Milly Dowler moment”. That would be the apocryphal Milly Dowler moment for which the Guardian apologised and of which Mr Justice Saunders said they were “wrong and they have accepted that”. It is also a pretty tasteless metaphor (sounds like Tom Baldwin, at a guess, is the source).

In addition to this being a beltway thing of interest only to broadsheet readers, this may not go as they think…

UPDATE: A Labour spokesman denies this is Miliband’s view:

“Ed is not comparing this to a Milly Dowler moment. This is about standing up for what is right, not making comparisons.”

So who briefed it?

THE VAN THAT HATED BRITAIN

+ Labour’s Pink Van Paid For By Taxpayer
+ Made in Turkey at Cost of 500 British Jobs
+ Funded By €190 Million EU Loan Raised By UK Taxpayer

Is there anything British about Labour’s sexist pink van? 500 jobs were lost when the Ford Transit factory in Southampton was closed down in 2012 and relocated to Turkey. In a further slap in the face for British workers, the EU’s European Investment Bank then approved a €190 million loan for the new Turkish site, raised on the back of UK taxpayer funding for the bank. So Labour’s pink van was made in Turkey thanks to the loss of UK jobs, funded by an EU loan paid for by us. The only thing British about it is that it was paid for by the British taxpayer…

I Wouldn’t Take Money From PWC Says Ex-Employee Hodge
+ Hodge Family Firm Stemcor Employs PWC
+ Admits She Still Receives Pension From Her Time There

Worth listening to the end of Margaret Hodge’s interview on the World at One as she is politely reminded of her massive hypocrisy when it comes to Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Hodge began by slamming Labour’s Shadow Cabinet – including Ed BallChuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves- for employing PWC staffers, before being told that her company Stemcor also uses PWC, that she used be a senior consultant for the firm herself and still receives a pension from them:

By the end even she was laughing at her own hypocrisy…

UPDATE:

Outsourced Government IT Project Saves Taxpayers Money

verify gov

The Government Digital Service has made a massive stride towards fixing the hated Government Gateway, the cumbersome registration portal that users need to access online government services. The Cabinet Office has announced today that its new alternative verification service, GOV.UK Verify, helped 11,000 people avoid paying late submission fines on their self-assessment form this year. Last year, if people didn’t have their login info ready from around two weeks before the deadline they were forced to pay a fine. The new Verify system allows anyone with a passport and driver’s licences to bypass the 10 day wait for a username or password in the post.

Unlike some government IT projects in the past, it appears the Cabinet Office have executed GOV.UK Verify with some degree of competence. Two competing private companies were given the contract (they will be joined by three more soon), it was rolled out in beta form with throttled (limited) access in December and incremental changes were made regularly. Like it’s supposed to be done.

The online verification issue has been a major stumbling block to the Cabinet Office’s dream of creating a seamless one stop online shop for accessing any government service. Not like a government IT project to actually help save taxpayers’ money…

Miliband’s Red-Facebook

Smarting from the stinging attack by the boss of Boots, Ed Miliband has rehashed his vague promise to clampdown on big corporations not paying UK tax.

He made this pledge while taking part in Sky New’s ‘Stand Up and […]

+ READ MORE +

Polly Toynbee Lifts TPA Research Uncredited in Guardian

An “insidious poison fed into the nation’s veins”. So said Polly Toynbee of the Taxpayers’ Alliance in 2009. Therefore it was a surprise to see North London’s finest quote research by the grass-roots tax justice campaigners in her latest […]

+ READ MORE +

Another Top Labour Figure Rebels Against Ed’s Mansion Tax

Which Shadow Cabinet minister with a special interest in Streatham could it […]

+ READ MORE +

RED ON RED: Audio of Murphy v Abbott Mansion Tax Bunfight

Jim Murphy’s mansion tax raid on London to fund nurses in Scotland has descended into an almighty slanging match with Diane Abbott. The Hackney MP couldn’t even remember the Scottish Labour leader’s name on Wato today:

“I am very surprised

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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The Donald asks what America wants from a President…

“I spent less, I won the most. Isn’t that what you want from your President for a little time?”

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