It is time for HM Revenue & Customs to stop slurring advisers’ integrity,
a major accounting firm said today in response to the government’s latest
initiative on carousel fraud.
Bentley Jennison, the advisors to Bond House, say in a striking press
statement today that it is time for the Revenue to back off advisers in trying
to blur the boundaries between tax planning and tax evasion.
‘HMRC appear to be on a campaign to shift the boundaries of public perception
as to what is acceptable tax planning by continually – and wholly
inappropriately – linking tax planning to unacceptable matters such as MTIC
fraud,’ the statement says. This refers to recent
releases from HMRC suggesting that some advisers thought
MTIC, or carousel, fraud, was simply tax planning.
‘Tax planning is a wholly proper activity whereby taxpayers do not contribute
anymore that they are properly required to the Exchequer,’ it goes on.
‘We object to the Revenue’s continual use of the media to attack tax planning
per se. It would be refreshing if the Revenue and/or Treasury Ministers would
just come out and say that they are seeking through the media to change public
opinion as to what is and is not acceptable tax planning.’
Customs’ attempt to get institutes and mid-tier firms to issue statements
condemning carousel fraud has caused an enormous amount of anger, as advisers
object to suggestions that they cannot distinguish between avoidance and
Advisers have had no problem condemning fraud, as Bentley Jennison also say
today, but do not appreciate the suggestion that they might condone it in some
way: ‘we pride ourselves on our procedures to ensure that we only work with
genuine businesses and bring to the attention of appropriate bodies any
suspicion of criminal misfeasance. As a result we have no hesitation in
confirming that we do not condone in any way MTIC or ‘Carousel’ fraud and that
we will support HMRC in condemning such activity,’ the statement says.
In a reference to Bond House, it adds: ‘However, as in the ECJ case
concerning our client Bond House, we will vehemently support the interests of
those clients who are unwittingly and innocently caught up in a chain of supply
involving MTIC fraud.’
The Joint VAT Consultative Committee, the forum for major VAT discussions, is
discussing the issue of the statements today in a crucial meeting, with three
institutes at present refusing to play ball on the matter.
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