Police state warning

Police state warning

PricewaterhouseCoopers partner hits out at aggressive attitude of tax authorities. Chris Quick reports.

The UK is danger of becoming a ‘police state’ in its treatment of taxpayers, an audience of accountants and business leaders was warned last week.

Speaking at the Hardman lecture at the English ICA, Peter Wyman, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, hit out at the attitude prevailing in some quarters of the government that any means of preventing tax avoidance were justified, even when ordinary people doing ordinary things were severely disadvantaged.

‘There is a fine line between appropriate measures and inappropriate actions of the sort more commonly associated with a totalitarian state,’ Wyman said.

Taxpayers, he argued, had been placed in an unacceptable position by uncertainty about disclosure requirements. ‘There needs to be clear, and probably binding, accord on what constitutes proper disclosure. Only with such an agreement can the rights of the ordinary taxpayer be protected,’ he said.

The introduction of self-assessment and proposals for a general anti-avoidance rule, he added, were increasing the uncertainty about disclosure.

Wyman challenged the ICA’s afaculty to lead professional bodies in drawing up full guidance on what constitutes proper disclosure.

This, he said, should be presented to the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise, who would be asked to state clearly whether they agreed or disagreed with it.

The tax faculty said it was seriously considering the proposal and other points raised by Wyman, but had not yet come to any firm decisions on the way forward.

A spokesman said the lecture had raised a number of topical issues which needed to be resolved.

He also said the faculty was delighted that the lecture had prompted so much interest. Around 300 people attended, the largest audience since the first event in 1993.

The annual lecture is named after the late Philip Hardman, who was well known for his extensive writing, lecturing and broadcasting on all areas of tax.

Related Articles

Supreme Court rules against Pimlico Plumbers in landmark employment case

Legal Supreme Court rules against Pimlico Plumbers in landmark employment case

1m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Inheritance tax is 'unfit for modern society' and should be abolished, says think tank

Personal Tax Inheritance tax is 'unfit for modern society' and should be abolished, says think tank

3m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Rent-a-room relief – the survey says…

Personal Tax Rent-a-room relief – the survey says…

4m Helen Thornley, ATT Technical Officer
What should the OTS prioritise in its review of inheritance tax?

Personal Tax What should the OTS prioritise in its review of inheritance tax?

6m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
LITRG urges government to consider tax changes in disability work plan

Administration LITRG urges government to consider tax changes in disability work plan

7m Lucy Skoulding, Reporter
HMRC appeal rejected in Tottenham Hotspur case

Administration HMRC appeal rejected in Tottenham Hotspur case

8m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
HMRC urged to clarify impact of income allowances on Self-Assessments

Personal Tax HMRC urged to clarify impact of income allowances on Self-Assessments

9m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
New trading allowance: simplicity, but not as we know it

Administration New trading allowance: simplicity, but not as we know it

9m Emma Rawson, ATT Technical Officer