IoS letters, emails & online postings (25 September 2011)

Share

As a retired HMRC fraud and avoidance investigator, I wonder whether the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, realises that it takes about four years to train a tax inspector and about the same time to get from the start of an avoidance enquiry to a tax tribunal ("Crackdown: 2,200 new tax inspectors to target the rich", 18 September). Even if the training could be streamlined to two years, the policy will not pay dividends for six years – if HMRC wins its cases. And this is far from certain as leading firms' resources far outweigh those within HMRC.

In the meantime, the pay bill for the extra 2,000 investigators will be in the order of £400m, plus overheads, training costs, and the extra staff and solicitors needed to prepare cases.

There are some very talented investigators in HMRC, but even the best will take years to get to the facts in the face of an opposition inclined to admit only what is legally required and to challenge the enquiry all the way.

If the Government wants to produce revenue sooner rather than later, without substantial investment, it should introduce a general anti-avoidance provision. Contrary to what Digby Jones and others suggest, such a provision would not affect day-to-day transactions between unconnected parties, but would affect those who had paid to enter a bespoke scheme that generally has no economic benefit other than the avoidance of tax and that usually involves money traversing several accounts in a few minutes.

Rather than putting a plaster over seeping revenue in several years' time, we need to apply a general anti-avoidance tourniquet now.

Peter Bayliss

Staylittle, Powys

So, Danny Alexander thinks Labour lacks economic credibility ("Chief secretary scorns coalition deal with Labour...", 18 September). Before the election, Alexander campaigned against cutting the deficit too far and too fast. Yet, the policies he now pursues – public sector cuts, higher taxes and stagnant wages – have choked off the recovery, increased unemployment, destroyed consumer and business confidence, and brought about the biggest reduction in living standards in a generation. On top of that, there is higher inflation and the probability that the Government will have to borrow even more to pay for its failures.

If anyone lacks economic credibility, it is this inexperienced, former national park press officer who, by aping the arrogant complacency of Cameron and Osborne, has driven yet another nail in the Lib Dems' coffin.

Norman Evans

East Horsley, Surrey

After recent extreme cuts in funding, charities are ill-equipped to shoulder extra demands, so the Government's decision to refer starving people to a charity strikes us as deeply incongruous ("Jobcentres to send poor and hungry to food banks", 18 September).

A large number of people living in the UK today are unable to afford to feed themselves adequately; over 50 per cent of those approaching our charity have had to miss meals.

So many charities are already struggling to deal with the demand on their depleted resources as a result of falling salaries, increasing redundancies, rising inflation and the soaring price of food and fuel. We cannot see the logic in cutting funding while expecting the charitable sector, already groaning under the weight of widespread and desperate need, to pick up the slack.

Bryan Clover

Elizabeth Finn Care

London W6

Janet Street-Porter says, "Women loathe the summer holidays" ("It's jobs for the boys, and cheese and wine for the girls", 18 September). I like the holidays because I like my children. But I would really have appreciated just a modest income so I could feel I was doing a worthwhile job staying at home with them instead of feeling a failure for not being in the boardroom.

Helen

posted online

Disappointing but not surprising to see the report on Ireland's excellent win over Australia focus on England and their "clear path" to the rugby World Cup final. While relevant, was this worthy of the headline and first paragraph too?

J D Vallely

Wexford

While I was pleased Matthew Bell noted my "marvellous broadside" on Gardeners' Question Time, he suggested my action was impelled by sour grapes because I was "dropped... in 1994" (Diary, 18 September). In fact I resigned from GQT, giving as my reason the deep concerns I had about the inappropriate direction the new producers planned to take the programme for which I had the greatest affection. In the years since, I have been proved unerringly correct.

Professor Stefan Buczacki

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Corrections and clarifications

In our article "The scone of destiny" (11 September 2011), we incorrectly stated that Tilly Mint Bakery, Truro, had closed. It has not closed and continues in business as usual. We apologise for this error.

Have your say

Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (with address; no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2011/September/25

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower