HMRC Have No Regrets Over Redknapp Case 
Following the acquittal of Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric in a high profile tax evasion court case, the HMRC have said that they have “no regrets” about taking the investigation to court.

During the last five years, an £8 million investigation has focused on an offshore bank account, set up by Mr. Redknapp in the name of his dog, which received money from Mr. Mandaric.

However, the jury accepted Redknapp’s explanation that the payments made into the account were nothing to do with bonuses he’d been promised from the sale of players; but were instead “seed money” loaned by Mandaric, which had been intended for investments.

Following the court decision yesterday, Redknapp told waiting reporters that: “It really has been a nightmare. I've got to be honest. It's been five years and this is a case that should never have come to court because it's unbelievable, really.”

Whilst the decision will come as a blow to the HMRC, which has a high conviction rate in regard to tax evasion, the assistant director of criminal investigations at HMRC, Chris Martin, said he had no regrets, and warned others using offshore tax havens.

“We have no regrets about pursuing this case because it was vitally important that the facts were put before a jury for their consideration.

“We accept the verdict of the jury but I would like to remind those who are evading tax by using offshore tax havens that it always makes sense to come forward and talk to us before we come to talk to you.”

It’s also been reported that HMRC intend to step up the number of criminal prosecutions it brings from around 100 to 500 per year, and they’ve also been given £900 million by the government to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion.

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Liechtenstein Tax Disclosure Agreement Extended 
The UK government have extended the tax agreement with Liechtenstein, giving British taxpayers an extra year to come clean about any tax they owe.

Under the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, British taxpayers with bank accounts in the tiny European principality are able to settle their tax liabilities in favourable terms. Those who come forward under the agreement could face penalties amounting to just 10% of the tax they’ve evaded; although they will still have to pay back tax and interest, going back up to 10 years.

Taxpayers who fail to volunteer their actions face much tougher penalties, with fines amounting up to 200% of their unpaid tax and in the most serious cases prosecution.

The LDF was due to end at the end of March 2015, but because of strong demand, the disclosure facility is now set to run until April 5th 2016 – with HMRC claiming that since the LDF came into affect in 2009, 2,000 people have so far come forward, which has exceeded expectations.

The LDF has also been incorporated into a double taxation agreement between the two governments to ensure that taxpayers aren’t taxed twice on their income.

Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke, said: “Today's agreement takes that commitment forward by providing greater transparency and certainty to the taxpayers of both our countries about how their incomes and gains will be taxed."

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HMRC Wipe Off £11 Billion in Unpaid Tax 
According to the first joint audit of every government department HMRC wrote off just under £11 billion in unpaid taxes, in just one year.

The lost money is said to have been owed by small business, yet because of errors in calculating tax credits, it went unnoticed by the Treasury until it appeared in the Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) for 2009 to 2010, according to the Public Affairs Committee.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said: “The Treasury has departed from accounting standards by leaving out of the accounts of such bodies as Network Rail and the publicly-owned banks.

“This has led to the accounts being qualified by the Comptroller & Auditor General. We want the Government to provide the necessary information so that these accounts are comprehensive and credible.”

The Treasury has since admitted that they’re surprised about the write-off, which along with £105 billion of uncollected tax was called a “‘gobsmackingly, huge, ginormous figure”. But they did say the WGA represented "the most ambitious public sector account prepared anywhere in the world" and that it was working hard to remove the qualifications.

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: "No other country has sought to fully consolidate all public sector bodies, including the local government sector, in one statement of accounts.

“We will build on this first publication and are working hard to remove any qualifications.

"HMRC collects almost all tax debt and write-offs are relatively low. What's more, around 90% of those write-offs are due to insolvency where further debt pursuit is actually barred by law."

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Calls for Tax Relief to be Scrapped 
Union leaders have added pressure on government’s for their handling of bankers’ bonuses, by claiming that changes to the tax system could help raise just under £2 billion per year.

In the TUC’s Bonus Season report, the union have said that corporation tax relief for pay and bonuses worth more than ten times the average earnings should end in the banking and finance sector.

The report claims that stopping the relief on earnings more than £262,00 would raise £1.7billion per year, which would pay back the deficit created by the financial crash.

Brendan Barber, the General Secretary of the TUC, said: “Irresponsible banks played the biggest part in causing the crash. But while the rest of us are still paying a heavy price, banks have gone back to business as usual with eye-watering bonuses for their top staff.

“It is only right that they share these with the rest of us, and making the top bonus pool liable for corporation tax means they would pay a little more towards clearing up the mess they made.

“We should not forget they have enjoyed a level of state support no other industry could dream of, including an £850 billion bailout from taxpayers and the Bank of England.

“Scrapping corporation tax relief for earnings over £262,000 will help pay off the deficit and tackle the growing pay divide that has seen a tiny minority of super-rich individuals receive inflation and performance-busting pay rises while everyone else suffers real-terms wage cuts.

"The Chancellor should use his budget to end the privileged status that the financial services sector enjoys at the expense of everyone else by announcing this new tax on excessive pay and bonuses, as well as taking proper steps to reform our failed executive pay culture."

The Bonus Season report, uses data from the Labour Force Survey to show the total pay and bonuses to staff earning more than £250,000 is £6.8bn; and it found over a third of employees earning more than £250,000 per year within the UK, work within the banking and finance sectors.

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Coalition’s Fiscal Squeeze Will Push UK Into Recession 
A respected think tank has warned that the UK will fall into another recession this year, if the government continues to “deliberately” damage the economy with its fiscal squeeze.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) have slashed its outlook for the economy and predicts that it’ll contract by 0.1 percent this year. This news comes as another blow to the government, following official figures released last week which already show that the UK contracted in the final quarter of 2011.

NIESR have said that a return to recession will be driven by squeezed families cutting back further, tight credit conditions and businesses’ reluctance to invest amid uncertainty in both the domestic and foreign markets.

Simon Kirby, from NIESR has warned that it’s obvious that the economy is in poor shape and the degree to which this persists is uncertain.

The think tank is now urging the government to loosen its fiscal stance and shore up faltering demand. NIESR argue that the government could easily afford to invest enough money into the economy to avert a recession this year, without denting its credibility in financial markets or doing any long-term damage to the public finances.

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