On the money

On the money

One of the most frustrating things about the media-driven modern world is how emotion and not reason drives debate

There was, for example, a media frenzy a few weeks ago when a Home Office
official admitted ‘he had not the faintest idea’ how many illegal immigrants
there were in the UK. In other departments, however, examples of incompetence
pass almost without notice.

For example, Britain’s huge surge of exports in the first months of this year
is not a sign of economic competitiveness, but rather of the scale of the VAT
carousel fraud. Adjusted for that, exports were up 7% rather than 17%, but the
fraud itself has not provoked speculation at the level of efficiency of the tax
departments.

That in turn served as a reminder of comments made last year by an
information officer of HM Revenue & Customs. Speaking at a technology summit
– where he perhaps thought he could be frank – he described the chaotic state of
the Revenue’s outdated computer systems and suggested that as much as £50bn was
being lost each year through underpayment.

He also revealed that as many as 30 million letters a year were sent to the
wrong addresses and 48% of self assessment forms were processed incorrectly the
first time.

Talking to the press afterwards, he toned his comments down somewhat by
saying that any figures he had used had been ‘entirely illustrative’ and should
not be taken as ‘official estimates’.

Now any rational person would think that an admission that the tax system is
chaotic and ‘losing £50bn’ would be a much greater cause for concern than a
declaration that the immigration system is chaotic, if only because the former
affects far more people and businesses. But our emotion-driven media takes
little notice.

Anthony Hilton is finance editor of the Evening Standard

Related Articles

CogitalGroup announces acquisition of Wilkins Kennedy

Accounting Firms CogitalGroup announces acquisition of Wilkins Kennedy

2w Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Blick Rothenberg acquires Westleton Drake

Accounting Firms Blick Rothenberg acquires Westleton Drake

3w Emma Smith, Managing Editor
IR35 in 2018: what do accountants need to know?

Accounting Firms IR35 in 2018: what do accountants need to know?

3w SJD Accountancy | Sponsored
Top 50+50 UK Accountancy Firms 2018 – entries now open!

Accounting Firms Top 50+50 UK Accountancy Firms 2018 – entries now open!

3w Emma Smith, Managing Editor
It’s not just the potential of women at stake, it’s the potential of accountancy

Accounting Firms It’s not just the potential of women at stake, it’s the potential of accountancy

1m Jean Stephens, RSM International
PwC to net £50m from Carillion insolvency

Accounting Firms PwC to net £50m from Carillion insolvency

2m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Mercer & Hole makes two new appointments

Accounting Firms Mercer & Hole makes two new appointments

2m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Sexual harassment – is accountancy next for #MeToo?

Accounting Firms Sexual harassment – is accountancy next for #MeToo?

2m Karen Baxter, Lewis Silkin