Public Bodies Duty to Report Tax Avoidance and Evasion

Yn disgwyl am adolygiad mewnol gan Cyllid a Thollau Ei Mawrhydi o'u triniaeth o'r cais hwn.

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Please could you provide copies of any polices or guidance relating to the reporting of tax avoidance or evasion to HMRC. In particular, please could you confirm whether all public bodies have a duty to report all suspected tax avoidance or evasion to HMRC?

Yours faithfully,

Mr McGregor

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Team, Cyllid a Thollau Ei Mawrhydi

Our ref: FOI2019/02587

Dear Mr McGregor,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 8th December which has been passed to
HMRC's Freedom of Information Team.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we
think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the
Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it
on to a more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Act Team

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of CCG Correspondence & Briefing, Cyllid a Thollau Ei Mawrhydi

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr McGregor,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 8th
December.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Gadawodd Dr Colin Iain Campbell MBChB FRSPH anodiad ()

It looks to me like HMRC haven't actually answered the question here.

They've asserted any duties are publicly listed on a webpage then, presumably seeking to discharge their Section 16 Duty to provide Advice and Assistance have given you a search for the word the word 'report'...and a link to pages that show you how and where to report, but do not appear to cover whether there is the existence of a statutory duty to report.

Firstly, distinction should be made between the lawful activity of tax avoidance (not structuring affairs such that one pays the maximum tax that could be due) - which is in the main lawful unless it is so unreasonable as to be abusive (it needs to fail the very high bar of a double reasonableness test to be caught by the General Anti Abuse Rule).

I would be surprised if public bodies were under an obligation to report lawful tax arrangements (even if I agree these sometimes pose moral questions...) to prevent HMRC conflating the answer to you I would ask separately about avoidance and evasion...

Evasion is essentially the dishonest matter of not paying money you know to be due - it is far more likely there is such a duty I would imagine and you should push HMRC for it (the only such duty I can think of might arise under the Facilitation of tax Evasion Offence introduced under the Criminal Finance Act 2017...but you'd need to delve deeper into reporting obligations)....

There is also the separate matter that unless there's specific legal authority positively permitting an act a public authority generally can't do it constitutionally... See Entrick v Carrington [1765]...(unlike individuals who can do anything not forbidden)...as such I'd certainly expect them to be able to point to a solid legal duty, or legal authority for any action a public body can undertake - even if it comes under something vague....

The pages HMRC have linked show only how to report each, not whether there is a duty...and they may have nebulously cited that it a duty is placed somewhere on their website but given how vast their website is it seems unlikely - there is authority that if the information is on a large database then the public body should provide Advice and Assistance under section 16 by linking to it arising from Arnes v ICO & Cabinet Office. Which you can cite when requesting them to link you directly to the legal source of such a duty when internal reviewing. HMRC have form in claiming Section 21 where information can be obtained in large databases - the key thing is to argue that it is not 'reasonably accessible'.

Good luck!

PS If you want more info on how to challenge the exemption and links to examples then you can find them under the legal section of this app (android only) https://play.google.com/store/apps/detai...

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of HM Revenue and Customs's handling of my FOI request 'Public Bodies Duty to Report Tax Avoidance and Evasion'.

Your response provides links on how to report tax evasion but doesn't answer the question on whether there is an existence of a statutory duty on public bodies to report tax evasion. I'd be grateful of you would answer this question as part of your internal review.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

Mr McGregor

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of CCG Correspondence & Briefing, Cyllid a Thollau Ei Mawrhydi

Our ref: IR2020/00087

Dear Mr McGregor,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 14th January which has been passed to
HMRC's Freedom of Information Team.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we
think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the
Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it
on to a more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Act Team

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to chase up the internal review of HM Revenue and Customs's handling of my FOI request 'Public Bodies Duty to Report Tax Avoidance and Evasion'. It has now been more than 20 working days since I made the internal review request. Please could you respond at your earliest convenience.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

Mr McGregor

Dear [email address] on behalf of CCG Correspondence & Briefing,

I am writing to chase up for the 3rd time your internal review of this FOI. The internal review request was originally made on 14th January 2020, way over the 20 working day limit for responding. Please could you review and respond ASAP.

Yours sincerely,

Mr McGregor

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of CCG Correspondence & Briefing, Cyllid a Thollau Ei Mawrhydi

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr McGregor,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 14th
January.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Dear [email address] on behalf of CCG Correspondence & Briefing,

Thank you for your response dated 24th March 2020.

I find your response contradictory as you first try to claim I have reduced the scope of my request by adding in the word “statutory” and focusing on evasion, but then go on to say you can no longer respond to my narrowed down request due to it exceeding the time limits under Section 12(1) of the FOIA. If this was the case, how did you manage to respond to my original wider ranging request?

Then, instead of answering what you consider to be a narrowed down request, you raise various extra questions in an attempt to avoid answering it. For example, you say the answer would depend on which public body I am referring to, but why? Are you claiming there isn’t a statutory duty encompassing all public bodies? Similarly, I don’t understand why the answers to (b) or (c) would affect your answer. Please would you reconsider my response in light of these points and/or clarify why these questions would make a difference to your answer.

Yours sincerely,

Mr McGregor