Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Blearsy-eyed!

We read here that Hazel Blears is to pay £13,332 on the sale of a second home. How is she going to do this? Presumably her accountants or tax advisers got the documentation right so that she successfully avoided a liability by making the appropriate election. The only way she can get HMRC to accept the money is by saying she made an error or worse, deliberately misled them. She will not be happy if they charge interest and penalties in addition to the CGT.

Perhaps she thinks the way to pay this voluntary tax is to just send a cheque. If HMRC cannot match the amount paid against a current liability, they will want to just send the money back. Remember that following the change in treatment of offshore income received by non-domiciled residents in UK, advisers on US tax told their UK resident clients that they should pay their tax due in the UK on US and worldwide income received in the period 6th April to 31st December 2008 before the end of December 2008 so as to have it matched with and set off against US tax due for 2008. The problem with this was that UK tax would not have become due before 31st January 2010, and HMRC's reaction was to try to repay the tax, thus defeating the object. Does Hazel know something we don't, or is this just political expediency without worrying about the consequences? I can guess, but answers on a post card please.

Update 14th May

Hazel Blears might have read my blog yesterday! I heard on BBC radio this morning that because HMRC would not be able to accept a cheque if they could not allocate it to a known liability (given that she has done nothing that she was not legally permitted to do), an official from HMRC was summoned to Westminster last night to accept the £13,332 on behalf of the Public Purse. I think it might have been better used if paid to a charity for the homeless. This is gesture politics at its worst, and really, you couldn't make it up, could you?

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