No To Retro Tax letter to David Gauke MP
Section 58 of the Finance Act 2008
David Gauke MP
1 Horseguards Road
20th July 2012
Dear Mr Gauke,
Thank you for your letter dated 26th June regarding the retrospective application of Section 58 of the Finance Act 2008, which has been passed onto the No to Retro Tax (NTRT) campaign by Nigel Mills MP. We note the length of your response but are concerned that our salient points are still being avoided.
As you will be aware, a significant amount of correspondence has been generated on this subject and sent to you by numerous taxpayers affected by Section 58. You will also have noted that there is a growing interest in this issue by MPs and Peers, with a number of Parliamentary Questions being tabled and representations being made on behalf of those who are facing hardship as a result of the legislation. We understand there is likely to be an Adjournment Debate or Westminster Hall debate on the matter and that other legislative amendments, which would have the effect of removing the retrospective element of Section 58, are to be tabled once Parliament returns from summer recess.
It would appear that a significant amount of your time is being spent on responding to this correspondence and activity, which in turn leads to a further round of written communications between yourself and those affected. I’m sure you would agree that this is an inefficient use of your time and that of your officials. Therefore, and to arrive at the apex of this dispute more swiftly, you may find it more appropriate to meet with representatives of the NTRT campaign in your official capacity as Exchequer Secretary, at your earliest convenience.
Such a meeting would no doubt be valuable to you as it would provide a forum for us to address serious concerns about the way in which HMRC has handled this matter, and which place you, as the Minister responsible, in a difficult and compromised position. We note that numerous signed letters from you to victims of the retrospective legislation through their MPs, including your most recent response to Nigel Mills, contain statements that we know to be untrue, and can be proven as such with irrefutable documentary evidence. This letter does not intend to challenge them all with a written response at this stage. There is less value in discussing these matters at arm’s length through back and forwards correspondence than there is in face-to-face dialogue, which is in all areas of dispute resolution a much more effective platform to arrive at a resolution.
While we appreciate it is not possible for you as a Minister to meet with every individual or campaign, when the matter is of such a feral nature, there is merit in both sides bringing this matter towards a conclusion through frank and open dialogue. It would be in your interest to meet with us, as such action would go some way to winning the confidence of those affected by the legislation, and would align you to the steadfast and principled position you held in opposition. It will demonstrate that you are indeed listening and the issues and concerns we have raised are being considered independently of the advice you are receiving from HMRC.
In much of your correspondence on this matter, you have referred to the conclusions drawn by the Judicial Review on this matter on the basis of a human rights challenge. As with Parliament, HMRC had always advised Ministers with the same brief that formed the basis of the witness testimonies given to the courts for Judicial Review. This letter is not the forum to debate the contradictions in this evidence, but we are aware that you have sight of documents from HMRC that accepted a tax relief claim under the schemes in question, contrary to what HMRC claimed and contrary to what you have stated in your signed responses. We can assure you that we have evidence this was not an isolated example, and urge you to reflect on this significant fact.
We can assure you that the matter to hand is most serious and with the evidence mounting daily to refute the claims made by HMRC and, through written correspondence and statements to Parliament, by you, that NTRT will seek further advice on this matter. The court of public opinion amongst others will be asked to consider whether the tax authorities are out of control, unable to follow their own compliance and regulatory standards, and that Government and specific Ministers, when warned of this and the impact it would have on innocent taxpayers, failed to act.
Our offer to meet with you is intended to avert such an outcome and given your principled stance on the matter before you became the Minister, we are confident that you will appreciate the opportunity to meet with us. The NTRT campaign is not a problem to be solved, but can help offer a solution for a very real case of maladministration by HMRC which threatens the wellbeing and livelihoods of thousands of families.
We look forward to hearing from you shortly, and suggest that you have your office contact us using the details above so we can arrange a mutually convenient date and time.
Alistair Cliff Renshaw
Chair, No to Retro Tax campaign
222 Southbank House
Black Prince Road
London SE1 7SJ