Richard Willis's Blog

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More than 40 Ministers Broke Tax Laws

hmrcTonight the Daily Telegraph has sensational news that more than 40 Government Ministers, including nine Cabinet Ministers, have acted contrary to specific advice from HMRC in offsetting the cost of accountancy advice against their tax liabilities. HMRC has issued a statement to the Telegraph contradicting what some Ministers have been stating that they were exempt from normal tax rules.

Dozens of Ministers now face an investigation into their tax affairs. In case anyone seeks to suggest that I somehow being biased, the Telegraph confirms that it believes that senior Conservatives are not believed to have offset their accountancy costs in this way. It seems to be a peculiarly Labour scam.

If this story stands up (and I have no reason to believe that it won’t) it looks VERY bad for Labour. Working within lax expenses rules is one thing but to be seen to be fiddling your tax returns at the heart of Government is appalling. It is highly unusual for HMRC to issue such a public statement, especially when it is considered that it answers to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  Each Minister will now be under pressure to pay back the tax they saved by this apparently illegal offset.


May 26, 2009 - Posted by | National


  1. “offsetting the cost of accountancy advice against their tax liabilities”
    “will now be under pressure to pay back the tax saved by this apparantly illegal offset”
    I think I am right in saying that the problem here is that the ministers should not have claimed for the accountancy fees—-Presumably the advice they received was correct and the amount of tax payed was correct– the issue is that they should not have claimed for the cost of the accountants.
    Far bigger issues have already come to light with various(even most ) ministers. The names McNumpty, Smith , Hoon,Darling spring to mind……..some of these people should be on a criminal charge.
    Although wrong , is this the biggest story so far?

    Comment by howard thomas` | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. who would believe any of them anyway. :-S

    Comment by Nicholas | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. This remains the tip of the iceberg but at least HMRC have now confirmed that they are going to be investigating further.

    I’ve been providing ‘expert’ tax insights on this story over the last few weeks on the TaxBuzz blog – where I’ve explained:

    * The Green Book guidance that seems to allow such claims to be made
    * The tax rules that make clear that such expenses are not deductible for tax purposes
    * Why I consider it likely that Ministers will owe tax on their accountancy fee claims
    * The tax rules that enable only self employed people to ‘Do a Darling’ and claim tax relief for their accountancy fees
    * The tax questions that have yet to be asked and answered about the MPs’ expenses scandal

    Comment by bookmarklee | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  4. To change the subject and raise an issue….
    Richard–as the Conservative spokesman on transport issues, can you tell me if parking regulations on a bank holiday are the same as those for a Sunday.(this is not meant to be a trick question)

    Comment by Howard Thomas | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  5. Richard ,,Do you know the answer to the above question , if you don’t then have a guess based on what you think it should be.

    By the way Emma is back—its been a long time!

    Comment by Howard Thomas | May 28, 2009 | Reply

    • Mr Thomas – If you have a question that is not related to the thread please email me rather than divert the thread onto another subject.

      As to your question, I have always thought that Sunday rules applied on a Bank Holiday but having asked a traffic policeman the same question recently who also was not sure, I am now uncertain. I will try to get some clarification.

      Comment by Richard Willis | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  6. I have researched this now , and the fact is that bank holidays count exactly the same as every other day unless the signage states ‘except bank holidays’
    I think we have both just learned something!(as has anyone reading your post!)
    This belief that bank holidays count as Sundays is an urban myth—-the reason that I raise it is because the parking attendants have been working overtime last Monday , dishing out tickets to unsuspecting motorists.
    There are 2 possible solutions to this issue—–either alter the signage , or give the wardens the day off!!
    In your position as transport man for your party , you may have some ideas of how to sort out an issue that is costing good people money they can ill afford.

    Comment by Howard thomas | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  7. Back the the Westminster subject . Have you seen that 3 MPs have stood down today?
    Lots more to go yet I suspect.
    What a powerful thing public opinion can be

    Comment by howard thomas` | May 28, 2009 | Reply

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