Friday, 8 April 2011

MPs pushing through draconian tax regime, but exempt themselves

Calling England draws my attention to this Telegraph article by Ian Cowie:
New tax year, same old MPs. After Budget promises to tackle tax avoidance, Parliament is passing legislation to block several loopholes – but an obscure clause specifically exempts MPs from these new restrictions.

Yes, really. Anyone who thought the denizens of Halitosis Hall had learned their lesson after the MPs’ expenses scandal will be disappointed. But it seems politicians still cannot get their heads round the childhood adage about sauce for the goose and gander – or why their constituents are fed up with buying them duck houses.

A reader who prefers to be known as ‘HTaxpayer’ emailed me to flag up this new scandal. He – or she – said: “Complex and at times draconian draft tax legislation, which has the potential to impact on any employee or employer in the UK, is contained in the Finance Bill.

“HM Revenue & Customs says that this legislation is only there to stop ‘tax avoidance’. However, Section 554E(8) specifically exempts members of the House of Commons and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority from the new legislation in situations where they are actually caught by it.

“If the legislation is fair and proportional, what is the need for a specific exemption for members of the House of Commons? Why don’t they rely on the same arrangements that every other employer and employee in this country has to rely on?

“If the legislation only targets tax avoidance, why is there a need for a special exemption for MPs?”

Read the rest of the article.

I started downloaded the bill. It's a huge document, which indicates to me that it will make bad, complex law if enacted. A large bill enables the writers to hide unpleasant, unwanted, alarming clauses where only the most caffeine-fuelled vigilance will find them. This will be no exception I am sure.

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