In a blurb for the interview, it was suggested that Downing Street rejected calls for an inquiry into “the handling of 3,000 suspected tax evaders”. So far, the prime minister’s spokesman has said that officials believed it “right that HMRC prioritised collecting revenues” before bringing up cases with prosecuting authorities.
Jones’s tale clearly highlights how SMEs have started losing confidence in HMRC.
2002 saw HMRC send Jones a bill of £42,000. Together with his wife, Jones’s business partner, they battled HMRC for five years. IPSE funded that high-profile case which ended at the House of Lords and resulted in a historic win for the taxpayer. However, various questions about how tax inspectors carry out their investigations still remain.
“It makes my blood boil that they could put so much effort into hounding someone like me, the small person who hasn’t done anything wrong,” he told reporter Sima Kotecha. “It’s more than frustrating that there are large companies that owe people millions and millions.”
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In response, HMRC explained that they treated all tax payers “impartially”, but that their “specific approach will depend on the scale and complexity of the taxpayer”.
“Being impartial also means that we also come down hard on those who deliberately try to cheat the tax system, whether they are wealthy individuals, large businesses or SMEs,” a recent statement read.
In retaliation, the IPSE has said microbusinesses have become an easy target for HMRC which is “stifling” the work of independent professionals across the country. The calls from IPSE come following allegations that HMRC are not going far enough to prosecute wealthy individuals such as those involved in the HSBC scandal.
Simon McVicker, Director of Policy and External Affairs at IPSE, said: “The way HMRC are fiercely pursuing independent professionals while turning a blind eye to tax avoidance tactics by big business is completely unfair and is stifling the important work of microbusinesses up and down the country, which will in turn affect economic growth.
“Tax avoidance on all levels is wrong, but in light of the recent HSBC allegations, HMRC are picking on innocent individuals while big business are getting away with wrongdoing lightly. One of IPSE’s top priorities is to support microbusinesses who are being unfairly treated by HMRC.”
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