Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Threat to local tax office

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced that the North Ayrshire tax office is to close.

Currently, 28 members of staff are employed at the facility, which is located next to the headquarters of North Ayrshire Council in Irvine.  The plan to close the office is part of a cost-cutting exercise by the UK Government, which would see a total of 14 closures across the country.

However, local MP Katy Clark has condemned the move, saying, “I have no doubt that the decision to close these offices is a huge mistake.   I have recently lodged Parliamentary Questions regarding the viability of the office in Irvine on behalf of North Ayrshire members of the trade union PCS.  The union believes that this office is still financially viable and would be able to bring-in significant levels of tax.  Nationally, PCS have drawn attention to the fact that, today, HMRC have confirmed that £34-billion in tax was uncollected last year.”

In addition to the uncollected revenue, tax consultant John Murphy estimates that as much as £120-billion is illegally evaded every year by companies and individuals.

Ms Clark, Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran, said, “At a time when we are being told there is no alternative to cuts to public services, these further attacks on HMRC staff are economic madness.  The only outcome of these closures will be even higher sums of tax going uncollected and increased levels of tax evasion as there are fewer resources to pursue those who seek to avoid paying their share.   The beneficiaries of these closures will not be the majority, but the large corporations and wealthy individuals who will be able to afford specialist accountants and lawyers to hide their wealth. 

“I will continue to work with the union and press for staff to be redeployed.  With the office due to close in December, this will be a worrying time for all the staff in the run up to Christmas, and the decision could not have been made at a worse time.”

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