HMRC director 'paid by firm avoiding tax'


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The Independent Online

The head of the ethics committee at HM Revenue & Customs faced criticism last night after it emerged that he earns more than £125,000 as the director of a company based in the tax haven of Guernsey.

Former HBOS finance director Phil Hodkinson denied any conflict of interest over his dual role at HMRC and the insurance giant Resolution, which denies being incorporated on the island for tax reasons. Mr Hodkinson is paid £35,000 for his part-time role for the tax authorities.

Details about the commercial roles of directors of HMRC, made tonight in a programme by Channel 4's Dispatches, comes after Chancellor George Osborne described aggressive tax avoidance schemes as "morally repugnant".

The company's own documents explain that being in Guernsey means it avoids paying income and corporation tax, according to the investigation by Dispatches. But Mr Hodkinson said: "As I sit on the board of HMRC it is especially important to me that the motivation for Resolution being based in Guernsey is not tax avoidance."

The programme also highlighted the role of John Spence, who was on the HMRC board until 30 June, and is the chairman of estate agent and financial services group SpicerHaart.

The programme said two of the company's employees offered to help with schemes to avoid stamp duty. Mr Spence said the two managers were breaking the rules and the company "did not condone" any stamp duty avoidance schemes.

In a third embarrassing revelation, HMRC was shown to have awarded a contract for collecting millions of pounds of unpaid tax to Apex Credit Management Ltd, which is owned by a group based in Guernsey.

HMRC yesterday backed the directors and said the activities did not represent any conflicts of interest.