Correspondence To/From Beth Russell, Director General Tax and Welfare on the Loan Charge

Currently waiting for a response from Her Majesty's Treasury, they should respond promptly and fel arfer heb fod yn hwyrach na (manylion).

Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

Please provide all emails and letters referring to the Loan Charge that were to/from Beth Russell, Director General Tax and Welfare

Relevant dates: Between August 2019 to current date (8/2/2021)

Yours faithfully,

Rosemary Smith

eCase@hmtreasury.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/04908

Dear Rosemary Smith,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms Smith

 

Please find attached a letter in response to your Freedom of Information
request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Rights Unit | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A
2HQ   [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

 

This email and any files transmitted with it are intended solely for the
use of the individual(s) to whom they are addressed. If you are not the
intended recipient and have received this email in error, please notify
the sender and delete the email. This footnote also confirms that our
email communications may be monitored to ensure the secure and effective
operation of our systems and for other lawful purposes, and that this
email has been swept for malware and viruses.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for your response but I am frustrated by your refusal to supply information that should be readily available and that you confirm is available.

A similar request to HMRC for emails with these terms was satisfied and resulted in at least 2 significant discoveries providing evidence that directors of HMRC misled various members of the HoL and TSC.

I request that you reconsider your decision not to supply this information.

In order to limit the dates then the scope could be reduced from 1/1/2020 to 31/12/2020

Yours sincerely,

Rosemary Smith

eCase@hmtreasury.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/07359

Dear Rosemary Smith,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

eCase@hmtreasury.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Rosemary Smith

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear [email address] on behalf of FOI Requests,

Thank you for the response to my request and additional guidance.

I narrowed the scope of the request by reducing the time period from 18 months to 12 months, but this has still been declined on the grounds that there are too many emails.

I will reduce the period to 3 months 1/1/2020 to 31/3/2020.
If you are unable to satisfy this request please state how many emails meet the selection criteria

I'd also like to point out that your response is factually incorrect. To date, the government has taken no action whatsoever against any promoter of tax avoidance scheme that has been part of the Loan Charge policy. Emails between senior staff at HMRC revealed in another FOI has shown that the lack of action against promoters is something that they are still just talking about.

Yours sincerely,

Rosemary Smith

eCase@hmtreasury.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/10737

Dear Rosemary Smith,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Rosemary Smith

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear FOI Requests,
Thank you for your response where you have declined to provide the requested information on the grounds that it is too burdensome

You said:
We have interpreted your request as being a request for all correspondence to or from
Beth Russell containing the search term “Loan Charge” from 1 January 2020 to 31 March
2020. The search of our records indicated we held 471 emails potentially in scope of your
request.

This means that Beth Russel sent or received on average more than 7 emails a day on the subject. This seems an extraordinary number on one subject.

It might be useful to define what is meant by the word "potentially". An email contains the words specified (Loan Charge) or it doesn't. This is a binary option and a simple search of emails would clearly reveal an exact number.

Please provide the exact number (not potential) of emails that contain the specified term (Loan Charge) in each of the specified months.

1/1/2020 to 31/1/2020
1/2/2020 to 28/2/2020
1/3/2020 to 31/3/2020

It may be that the potential number of emails on this analysis yields an actual number that could be responded to in this FOI request.

You said:
Please also note regulations made under section 12(4) of the FOI Act provide that, where
authorities are addressing a number of related requests from the same person within any
period of 60 consecutive working days, they may group them. When requests are
aggregated the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is taken to be the
estimated total cost of complying with all of them. As such if we are able to comply with
any future request this may impact our ability to respond to any requests received after it

I have only made a single request for this information to HMT and indeed only a single request ever to HMT.

You said:
You additionally raised concerns about the action HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has
taken against promoters of tax avoidance. The Government treats tackling the promoters
of tax avoidance as a high priority and has reduced the avoidance tax gap, to which they
contribute, from an estimated £3.2bn in 2010-11 to an estimated £1.7bn in 2018-19.
HMRC has introduced a penalty regime for anyone who designs, sells, or otherwise
enables the use of a tax avoidance arrangement. Vigorous activity by HMRC has led to a
significant proportion of promoters having left the avoidance market since 2014.

The number of people engaging in Loan Charge schemes has continued to increase despite the measures you speak of. HMRC published their guidance on penalties for enablers of tax avoidance schemes in 2018. (4 years later than 2014 and 14 years after the retroactively/retrospectively applied Loan Charge) No promoters have been taking to court for promoting these schemes. If this is a high priority then it has clearly failed. The numbers quoted are like many from HMRC, totally incredible with no basis in fact and in some cases obvious attempts to provide erroneous information to various supervisory committees.
The only vigorous activity from HMRC continues to be against the victims of these schemes whose background is now more typically less affluent, financially savvy and in more and more cases health workers. (The ones that went into work to keep you/us alive during the pandemic)

I'm surprised that a claim "has led to a significant proportion of promoters leaving the avoidance market since 2014" can be made. Such a statement can only be made if HMRC know the names/numbers of promoters in 2014 and 2021 If HMRC know the names/numbers of these promoters then where is the action against the remaining promoters. The most prominent one continues to flourish as you well know.

I look forward to your response and further look forward to HMT embracing the FOIA.

Yours sincerely,

Rosemary Smith

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/12648

Dear Rosemary Smith,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Rosemary Smith

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for your response and the correction on the number of emails.

It is extraordinary that Beth Russell sent/received or was copied into so many emails on this one subject. With the revised number it means that she was included in 10 emails each day on this one subject

However in order to further reduce the scope, please do not include any emails in which she was just copied. Only emails in which she was on the 'To' or 'From' sections

To clarify:
Please provide all emails and letters referring to the Loan Charge that were to/from (not copied) Beth Russell, Director General Tax and Welfare

Relevant dates: Between 1/1/2020 and 31/3/2020

Yours sincerely,

Rosemary Smith

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/14719

Dear Rosemary Smith,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

1 Atodiad

Dear Rosemary Smith

Please find attached a response to your recent FOI request.

Kind regards

Information Rights Unit

| HM Treasury | Ground Orange | 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ |
[1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for your latest response to my request which states that there are 561 emails potentially in scope
Emails to Beth Russell between 1/1/2020 and 31/3/2020.
I believe that this number is a gross exaggeration as it would mean that Beth Russell is authoring or directly receiving on average 9 emails each working day on this subject alone.
In order to help my surprise at the volumes please confirm that the search you are performing is the equivalent of
Select distinct emails where
(email contains term "Loan Charge")
AND
(From field contains "Beth Russell" OR To field contains "Beth Russell")

Please note the placement of the brackets.
Please ensure that the count is of distinct emails and do not contain duplicates.

Nevertheless if you confirm that the query against the email database has been performed correctly, then please supply the number of emails directly authored by Beth Russell containing the phrase "loan charge"
1/1/2020 to 31/1/2020
1/2/2020 to 28/2/2020
1/3/3030 to 31/3/2020

Yours sincerely,

Rosemary Smith

FOI Requests, Her Majesty's Treasury

Our ref: FOI2021/16436

Dear Rosemary Smith,

Thank you for your request for information which we are considering under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is
receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do
not hesitate to contact us.

Please note: HM Treasury has a dedicated email address for the public to
make Freedom of Information requests: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Information Rights Unit | Correspondence and Information Rights | HM
Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ [1]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

Correspondence and Information Rights | HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road,
London, SW1A 2HQ [2]www.gov.uk/hm-treasury

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury
2. http://www.gov.uk/hm-treasury