David Gauke Worked For Tax Avoidance Firm

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke has some nerve doing the rounds on tax morality this week. Yesterday Guido brought you news of Gauke’s past avoidance of stamp duty and his wife’s job at a firm advising tax lawyers, while today the Telegraph and Mail both splash on his claim that paying tradesmen cash in hand is “morally wrong“:

“Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax. I think it is morally wrong.”

Guido can now reveal that Gauke himself worked for a company that specialises in helping the wealthy avoid tax. According to Debretts between 1999 and 2005 – when he became an MP – Gauke was a solicitor at Macfarlanes, a top city law firm with expertise on tax efficiency. They boast on their website:

“The tax efficient structuring of employee incentive arrangements is often a key requirement for our clients to achieve their commercial objectives. We have particular expertise in the structuring of tax efficient equity based incentive plans. We are able to develop innovative solutions to the most complex tax issues when necessary.”

Tax efficient equity-based plans, eh? Like those used by investment bankers perchance? Gauke must have made a success of finding “innovative solutions” to reducing his clients’ tax bills as he appears to be held in high regard by his former colleagues:

Guido feels Gauke should look in the mirror the next time he thinks about lecturing us on the morality of taxation…

David Gauke's Wife is Tax Avoidance Lawyer

This morning Guido named and shamed Treasury minister David Gauke – in his own words – as “morally repugnant” to be criticising others for their tax arrangements, but it doesn’t stop there. It turn’s out that Gauke’s wife Rachel is a professional support lawyer for Lexis Nexis, a company which boasts of its ability to “support every tax practitioner on the front line as they deal with the tax collector“. According to her personal profile Rachel “specialises in corporate tax law…and has advised on corporate restructurings, M&A, investment funds and finance“. Sounds like it an awkward weekend in the Gauke household…

Naming and Shaming the "Morally Repugnant" David Gauke

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke writing in The Times this morning says that they are going to name and shame tax dodgers. He also gives examples of what is fair and what is not:

Legitimate use of reliefs, for example taking out a tax-free ISA, is not tax avoidance. Buying a house for personal use through a company to avoid stamp duty, on the other hand, clearly is. Morally repugnant practices such as this are where the Government is cracking down.

 David Gauke MP claimed £10,248.32 expenses back from taxpayers to avoid paying the stamp duty and fees involved in the purchase of his home in London. Not only is that in his own words “morally repugnant”, it is beyond hypocritical to lecture others against doing what he himself did. It is shameless.

Tax Funded Union Research Backs Tax Funding of Unions

On the day that the consultation into union-leeches is launched, Unison have put out a report about facilities time. In a complete shock the union-funded research has found that unions taking money off  the taxpayer can only be a good thing. Needless to say it’s full of holes, but nice of them to show their hand…

Dave Prentis’ cronies are arguing that union bods in the workplace save money. This is fundamentally dishonest as it only takes into account one side of the picture. For every full-time pilgrim teacher, nurse or back-room pen-pusher that takes time off, the taxpayer has to pick up the tab twice by paying someone else to cover for them. For full-time pilgrims, the state ends up paying double the staffing costs.

This is not factored in to Unison’s hearsay case-study puff piece.

The consultation does not seek to end union officials being given time off, but the real question that needs to be addressed is why they should be paid out of public money when they are not on the job? Union members pay membership fees, the cost of pilgrims should be met from that.

It’s very simple.

UPDATE: It seems it is pilgrim day today. Cabinet Office sources are making all sorts of new information available this afternoon:

  • In one Whitehall department a staggering 2,660 Civil Servants were doing trade union work during their paid hours, including 563 trade union representatives working on Health & Safety, and another 387 on Skills and Learning.
  • A prison service official who worked 100% on trade union work was “promoted twice whilst in their trade union role, up to Grade 7 level” which can confer a salary of up to £61,038.
  • In contrast another 100% trade union representative in a different department earned less than £20,000.
  • In one department TU officials make up 4% of the overall workforce or 1 in 25 people.
  • One department admitted that “no formal allocations [had been] made or central records kept” of the amount of time spent by representatives on some union activity, while another confessed that “no central monitoring takes place”.
  • Only one department reported that they asked each representative “to apply to, and get the sign off from, the line manager in advance for the time they require” to take off – insisting that “reasonable notice (usually min 10 days)” must be given.
  • Several departments reported that they held “no central record” of the numbers of representatives working on Health & Safety or Skills & Learning.

Overall there are a staggering 10,000 civil servants doing trade union work during paid hours, that’s 1 in 40 of the total civil service workforce. Unbelievable… 

UPDATE II:

George Osborne Demands Hooker Goes Down Chancellor is Super-Pimp

George Osborne’s Treasury has wreaked revenge on high-earning hookers after a £1,000-a-night tart was jailed over a £120,000 tax fraud. Donna Asutaits will go down for 16 months after being found guilty of evading taxes over a two year period in which she earned over £300,000. UKuncut will be happy…

Osborne is responsible for the HMRC cracking down on high-earning tax evaders, demanding that high-class call girls pay a whopping 45% of their earnings, making him the harshest and most lucrative pimp in Britain. Guido can’t imagine how George ever got involved in such a sordid business

Hollande Outflanks Cameron From the Right

France’s socialist president François Hollande visited David Cameron at Downing Street today, but the afternoon press conference turned into a bit of an embarrassment for Dave as his opposite number threw up a few surprises from the right of the PM. Not only did Hollande promise he wouldn’t tax second homes owned by Britons south of the Channel, but he taunted George Osborne’s top rate of income tax as too left-wing:

He’ll be calling for an EU referendum next…

Murdoch Men Mystified By News Corp Split

Guido hears that Rupert Murdoch’s decision to separate News Corporation’s money-making arm from its publishing arm left senior employees completely in the dark as to what lies in store for the future of the company. Chatting to News Corp employees last night, Guido was told chaos is reaching such a stage that hacks are only half joking when they say they have had to establish shadow newsrooms where the ultimate scoop is finding out whether or not they will be keeping their jobs. Talk about rogue reporters…

Guido also put it to them that News Group, the UK newspaper wing of the business, doesn’t pay any tax. The denial was pretty damning:

Look, The Sun is the only paper that makes a profit, The Times loses money every day of the week. It’s pretty hard to pay any tax when you’re haemorrhaging money like that. The print media is on the way out, for sure.”

Did someone say dead tree press?

Labour Tell Donors How to Dodge Tax Too

Yesterday it was the Tories advising their top donors on how to avoid tax through a controversial “legacy” scheme. The story had considerable traction and unsurprisingly provoked considerable outrage among Labour MPs:

Guido can now reveal that the Labour Party offers an almost identical scheme to help its supporters dodge inheritance tax as well. Labour’s “Leave a Legacy” programme offers advice on three different methods of leaving money to the party, even going as far as to suggest clever a legalistic wording of donors’ wills in order to minimise tax liability:

Labour have led the way on bashing tax dodgers, with everyone from the shadow cabinet to the backbenches queuing up to stick the boot in. Starting with trigger-happy tweeter Steve McCabe, Guido wonders what they have to say about their own party being directly involved in a tax avoidance scheme. They call that red-handed…

Tories Advise Top Donors How to Avoid Tax

Dave might think that Jimmy Carr is morally repugnant but that has not stopped the Tories from advising their wealthy donors on how to avoid tax. The Conservative Foundation, an organisation run by an array of Tory grandees and city types, is offering donors the chance to dodge inheritance tax through a scheme in which they leave a “legacy” to the Tory party. The scheme promises to “reduce or even remove completely” the inheritance tax liability of rich Conservative backers, while its website explains how to take advantage of rules allowing tax-free donations to political parties. Although the scheme appears to have been set up on the quiet it is startlingly open about its intentions:

Cameron was always going to be a hostage to fortune over tax avoidance, now he faces the inevitable dilemma of having to deal with questions about his party’s wealthy financiers. He’s hardly making it easy for himself.

Osborne Fuel-Turn Catches Greening By Surprise


Justine Greening to the Sunday Telegraph:

“The taxes that we get in fund the public services that we all rely on. Surely it’s better to challenge the petrol retailers to pass on reductions to motorists and actually I think that’s probably the most important thing to do.”

Treasury Twitter feed on Tuesday:

“Chancellor announces that August fuel duty rise delayed until January 2013 to help with cost of living.”

Sure that went down well in the Department of Transport. Given that Balls was on the radio calling for the u-turn this morning, Guido reckons he was tipped that it was coming…

Carr in Reverse: Jimmy Says He's Done With Dodging

Guido suspects that HMRC are going to litigate over this scheme, probably successfully. Carr may end up paying all the taxman demands plus penalties…

Cameron Goes Back to Basics

Jimmy Carr is immoral apparently. It’s open season…

Topical Commons Lunch

You’ll want to let those cool…

Via @michaelsavage of the Times.

Just in Time for Tax Freedom Day

Tomorrow is Tax Freedom Day – the first day of the calendar year that you stop working for the state and start working for yourself.  One of the better received parts of the budget was the pledge of tax transparency – soon tax statements will come with a break down of how our money is spent.

If you can’t wait until then to see how your money is squandered, the Treasury have made a nifty app.

You can now keep a handy reminder in your pocket of how much of your hard earned cash is given to people who won’t work…

Small is Beautiful

Guido really likes this video from the wonks at the Centre for Policy Studies, it animates a very clear message, around the world lower taxes lead to higher growth rates.

The data is pretty clearly presented, are you watching Mr Osborne?

Guardian Attacks the Tax Status of the Guardian

While mentioning his race-baiting, tax avoidance and warning that if he wins he will be on “probation”, the Guardian has held its snooty nose and endorsed Ken. In an attempt to give some lukewarm covering fire today they claim that Boris has been using campaign office space donated by Lycamobile who have not paid corporation tax – a brave line of attack given Ken’s voodoo accounting.  Lycamobile did not pay tax because they haven’t made any profits yet. HRMC don’t tax companies on their losses. Which is lucky for the Guardian…

Guardian News & Media, which publishes the Guardian, doesn’t pay tax because it makes a loss every year. GNM is subsidised by its investment funds and its joint-ownership of AutoTrader. The joint-ownership is with, of course, a private equity firm. Some may consider the Guardian, on this basis, to be appalling hypocrites…

Labour Star Lord Winston Slams Party For Choosing Ken

Labour’s second most famous backer Lord Winston has followed the lead of Alan Sugar and slammed Ken. Talking on the Daily Politics he questioned how the party had managed to select Livingstone. Just a week ago Lord Winston was the face of the Labour Party’s Election Broadcast. If he isn’t backing Ken, then why should any Labour supporter?

Meanwhile Ken has today promised to release all of his earnings, and those of Silveta, and the tax he has paid, signed off by an accountant. There are rumours of avian swine sightings too. At least he admits that his last figures were a load of…

Video via Liar Politicians

WATCH: Ken’s Tax Downfall

As Parliament returns after an extended Easter break, here’s a handy catch up guide to what you have missed in the race to become Mayor of London…

Neutral Audience Savages Ken on Tax

An over overenthusiastic ‘elf and safety advocate ensured that Guido was ejected from last night’s Evening Standard debate, but thankfully they have sent over the video so you won’t miss a balanced audience boo and shout “champagne socialist” as Ken squirms and tries to justify, to no avail, his tax avoidance hypocrisy. He claims he has given so much in tax that he could pay for an aircraft carrier. Despite earnings of close to quarter of a million, Ken paid just under £40,000 in tax last year. An aircraft carrier costs £2.5bn.

Ken is the 14.5% Former Climate Change Adviser Knocked Up Partial Figures

Last night Ken promised on Newsnight to publish his accounts. He further said this morning “I will set out income to my company over the last four years, how much my wife and I received and how much tax was paid.” Instead we got a partial view of what he decided to pay tax on.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

John Curtice on fiscal policy:

“Attitudes to taxation and spending are basically counter-cyclical. If a government comes in and tries to reduce spending and taxation, after a while people will get worried about the state of public services. If a government increases taxation and public spending, after a while they’ll get concerned about increasing taxation…. In as much as there are lots of ideologues out there who think the state should be this proportion of GDP, they’re all wrong. Because the public’s view is counter-cyclical to the recent experience. It’s basically impossible to satisfy the public.”

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