Deep-seated concerns about Inland Revenue investigation procedures are set to lead to major reviews by the country’s two leading tax bodies.
The Chartered Institute of Taxation and the English ICA’s tax faculty are worried by the alleged ‘unethical practices’ used by some Revenue inspectors.
Further details of Revenue methods are expected to emerge in the ongoing trial of a senior officer, Michael Allcock, who has denied 13 charges of corruption at the Old Bailey.
The IoT’s technical committee chairman, John Whiting, said the range of investigatory methods must be examined. He highlighted a recent case where the Revenue was ordered to pay a restaurateur’s costs after years of investigation and harassment.
Whiting said: ‘If you put all these cases together, it is clear that we need to think about the Revenue’s practices and see if they are being applied properly.
‘Is it a case of the system going wrong or somebody going wrong within the system? The institute will certainly be making representations and I’ve no doubt the Revenue will be looking at it very closely too.’
Technical under-secretary at the tax faculty Peter Bickley added: ‘The Revenue should be working under English law. I suspect the need for cash often means that some of these practices go through on the nod. Ethical standards, from our point of view, are more important. But the Government might be more interested in collecting the money.’
The Revenue, which refused to comment on the subject, has published leaflets detailing its investigation procedures. But Mike Savage, head of office at the Revenue Adjudicator, said the booklets failed to tell the whole story. ‘As with all open government publications, there are some clauses which the Citizens’ Charter allows them not publish if they are sensitive or reveal policy matters.’