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To expect a company such as N Power to pay tax?

(16 Posts)
gillybob Wed 17-Apr-13 22:27:11

The head of N Power admits that they have paid no corporation tax in the last 3 years despite profits of over £766 million pounds.

The others ( the big 6 power firms) are all paying much less tax than they should. Why is it that the tax man would will hound a small company to the ends of the earth for a few thousand pounds when huge corporations such as these are sitting back and laughing at the rest of us? angry

absent Thu 18-Apr-13 07:25:54

gillybob Don't go there. Last time this subject was raised – in relation to Amazon, Starbucks and Google – those of us who expressed much the same sort of indignation then as you have now were severely lectured about our stupidity and ignorance. As has been pointed out elsewhere, different people have different moral values.

Right – that's two other threads that I have referred to in one post, so I'm for the chop. grin

glassortwo Thu 18-Apr-13 07:50:35

gilly as you say a small business is hounded to the ends of earth for a paltry amount in comparison to these huge companies, is that because HMRC know if pressure is put on the smaller man he will buckle or in some cases go to the wall, as they dont have the legal and accountacy back up that these giants have so making less of a noise than these giants do, or is it members of Government are on the boards and need to ensure their pin money is not put at risk so keep a low profile.

Greatnan Thu 18-Apr-13 08:34:28

I must protest at this demonisation of tax inspectors - most of us just wanted to get people to pay the correct tax. I am afraid the cosying up to big business starts at the top - Private Eye pursued David Hartnett, the retired head of HMRC for months, showing how he had ignored his own legal department in order to let Vodaphone and other large companies get away with millions in tax and interest. They came as close as dammit to saying he was corrupt - he didn't sue. His successor is no different, but don't blame the man or woman in the local tax offices.
They don't set the rules or rates - that is done by parliament.
Yes, I did work with a few Little Hitlers, but in the main they were just ordinary people doing their job to the best of their ability.

gillybob Thu 18-Apr-13 08:39:05

Yes Glassortwo you make two very good points here.

The small business is an easy target for the man in the bowler hat
who seems to think he has the power of god. As you said we do not have the mighty lawyers and the top accountants to back us up and are not in the position to bargain (which it appears is what these large corporations do). As a small business I have nothing but contempt for the tax office (sorry but I am speaking openly here). They are inconsistent depending how they feel and they do not allow businesses to compete on an open playing field.

One of our biggest customers has just gone into administration owing us a large sum of money. We received the paperwork from the administrators yesterday and reading through it made me so angry. The company apparently owes the Inland Revenue.........wait for it........... £8.2 million in unpaid PAYE and corporation tax. How did that allow to be built up to such a huge amount? As a small business if I pay a day late I will receive a nasty letter and a penalty. When I try to speak to them saying that we have just lost over 4 thousand pounds because a customer has gone to the wall what do you think they will say? "tough" .

......and yes I think some of these large companies are above the law because the MP's and their families have their dirty little fingers in the trough and they are being protected.

Today I am feeling very angry and very helpless . sad

Sorry Absent I have gone there!

gillybob Thu 18-Apr-13 08:42:56

Sorry Greatnan why is it that in 23 years in business everyone I have ever dealt with in the tax office is "a little hitler"? I get the impression that the power (and boy do they have power) seems to go to their head once they get into a certain position where they can actually make or break a small company.

I once asked a lady woman if she had any human feelings at all. She declined to answer so I took that as being a "no" .

Greatnan Thu 18-Apr-13 09:17:28

No need to apologise to me, I am not responsible for the actions of every tax inspector- and I have never known one that wore a bowler hat! Most of the people in my office wore jeans.
Perhaps I was a bit different from some because I didn't start to train until I was 50, and had run a business of my own. I tried hard to be helpful to tax payers, pointing out when they had failed to claim deductions to which they were entitled.
I used to represent the Inland Revenue at Commissioners' hearings, and some of the excuses dreamed up for not paying tax were on the lines of 'the dog ate my homework'.
I do agree that it is shameful that the largest companies can employ the largest and most expensive accountancy firms. Private Eye does a good job of exposing which firms have been responsible for allowing dodgy audits and dreaming up tax avoidance schemes. One of the prime inventors of such schemes is on the government's advisory panel on tax avoidance.
The inspector is not responsible for collecting the amount assessed - he/she merely tells the Collector the amount. The Collector will usually arrange for payment by instalments.
I know the newspapers love to talk about 'the tax man' grabbing money from you, but it is parliament that sets the rates.

absent Thu 18-Apr-13 09:29:22

It is particularly irritating that George Osborne periodically makes declarations about closing tax loopholes but I don't think that he has actually done anything about them. It's just hot air.

I actually typed loop taxholes which, on reflection, has a certain ring to it. grin

gillybob Thu 18-Apr-13 13:07:38

Greatnan I know you know I wasn't getting at you personally smile.

I think governments need to wake up and realise that as the backbone of this country SME's need to be treat with more respect by HMRC and their representatives. Also they need to be trained in being a little bit more understanding and consistent (what is good for the goose etc). How can we as a small company ever have any respect for HMRC when we are constantly treat like would be criminals and tax avoiders when massive organisations such as N Power, Amazon etc. are treat with Kid gloves and given all kinds of dispensations.

I do like the term "loop taxholes" Absent and may slip it in (with your permission of course) during my next conversation with HMRC ,which given the news I received yesterday, I don't doubt will be sometime soon.

Greatnan Thu 18-Apr-13 14:30:22

No problem, gillybob - it goes with the territory.
I have every respect for people running small businesses, especially as I ran one myself
What enrages me, and many others, is the way the rich and powerful get away with it - several prominent donors to all political parties are non-doms, including Lord Ashcroft and Viscount Rothermere. Both parties in the Commons scuppered an act to make it illegal for non-doms to make donations to political parties - it passed in the Lords.
If anybody thinks that these people make donations out of altruism, they are living in cloud-cuckoo land. They do it to gain privilege and to have access to ministers. Remember 'only the little people pay taxes'.

gillybob Thu 18-Apr-13 14:48:30

Perhaps having the experience of running your own business made you a little more "human" and "understanding" than most then Greatnan smile

The rich, powerful and famous (although that can often have a negative effect) do seem to get away with it. Is it because they have friends in high places or they employ dodgy the right kind of accountant?

Greatnan Thu 18-Apr-13 14:50:47


absent Thu 18-Apr-13 15:52:46

I simply don't understand this non-dom wheeze. I have just been filling in various forms for HMRC before emigrating to New Zealand because I don't want tax deducted by them at source in the UK and then have to claim back expenses with the resultant delays. I shall not return to the UK but any income generated here is taxed here. When I owned rental property in New Zealand, the income was taxed here although not a single penny of it ever entered this country. And then there are the people who live here but are registered as non-doms, such as Lakshmi Mittal…but of course his income is in the millions while mine isn't.

I should like to know how many MPs and/or their wives have off-shore hedge funds. I think they should be forced to disclose that information.

FlicketyB Thu 18-Apr-13 16:14:52

I am always a little cynical when I hear about how hard driven small businesses are by the tax inspectors. I know people who run really small businesses, tea shops and the like and the amount of under the counter tax evasion that goes on amazes me, cash out of the till, not too much to draw attention, cash in hand work done between people in trade, and barter, 'fit my kitchen and I will re-curtain your living room'.

It is all done very cleverly so that turnover doesn't drop to suspicious levels and the standard of living is not exceptionally high. Only the stupid and greedy get caught.

gangy5 Thu 18-Apr-13 20:55:07

You're so right Greatnan it shouldn't be the taxman being demonised here. Government is the regulator and the one to call these huge companies to heel by setting out new regulation. I agree with most of what everyone says here.
The 'rump' or mainly middle class of the country are the ones following the rules and providing the tax revenue. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that the large organizations are the ones to be able to afford hiring advisors and accountants to run rings round the system.
During one of my sleepless nights I watched a parliamentary committee discussing tax avoidance. It was chaired by Patricia Hodge MP - and formidable she was too. Before them were the chief taxmen from 4 really well known accounting firms - Ernst & Young, Delloite etc. and they all admitted in so many words that they had at least 50 staff employed solely for tax advice purposes. Also, these were the firms dealing with Google, Starbucks and Amazon!!

gillybob Thu 18-Apr-13 22:56:33

I was sad to read your "take" on small businesses FlicketyB and your cynical view,of how "we" operate. Our business and thousands more like us do not and have never taken so much as a penny in cash as we do not deal with the public. Everything we do is business to business and very much above board with our customers being invoiced and us being paid directly via the banking system. Can you honestly see Nissan giving cars away in return for a bit of Electrical work?? You even go on to add that it is all done so cleverly etc. I cannot honestly believe what you are suggesting saying.