On the money with Gavin Hinks

What triggered your ire was the announcement from Hazel Blear, the
communities minister, that she would pay £13,000 in capital gains tax on the
sale of a flat. She hadn’t done so originally because, for the taxman, it was
her main residence. But, to the House of Commons, she had declared it her second

Our readers picked the problem apart in their quite understandable fury. They
pointed out that if it was tax not technically due it would be repaid. Another
slap in the face for voters. Others pointed out that if she had sold three flats
perhaps she should be regarded as a property developer and pay income tax.

The matter led us to consider whether MPs’ tax liabilities were being
properly accounted for and what privileges they were exploiting. HMRC could now
be dragged in. And that’s as it should be.

If the taxman were to learn information about Joe Bloggs and did nothing
about it, it would be a breach of its duty. The rest of us could expect to meet
with the full force of the taxman.

This means that, not only does Parliament have to sort out expenses, but also
the tax. MPs cannot be in a position to exploit the tax system because of the
way the expenses framework appears to work.

Ordinary people are not entitled to claim extraordinary expenses, neither do
they get to exploit the tax system so readily.

That MPs could be able to circumvent the very taxes they are responsible for
putting in place is simply the height of hypocrisy. Parliament not only needs
auditors, it needs tax experts too.

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Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age

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