Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280 - 288)



  280. If you take the conclusion of my arithmetic—
  (Sir Nicholas Montagu) I would be a very unwise man to do that, Mr Williams.

  281. Take it in general terms. It seems to me looking at the figures we have of, as I say, the yield that was at risk, the savings that have been made administratively and then the 20 per cent that you claim, over the five years there is still a gap of 4.5 billion. That is a lot of money. How optimistic are you that you are going to be able to make inroads into this 4.5 billion potential yield that has not been collected over the past five years and, therefore, there is one billion a year that is not being collected at the moment?
  (Sir Nicholas Montagu) I think without signing up to the 4.5 billion, Mr Williams, since I agree with you that we should take it generally, what we are hoping to do is what I have spent a good deal of this hearing trying to explain to the Committee. By refining our indicators of risk, by doing more to get in late returns and the tax associated with them, by more efficient application of daily penalties, by augmenting the activities of our risk, intelligence and assessment teams with the right track teams, by the support side, better publicity, simpler forms, the support of the business support teams, really action on all the fronts that we can identify, coupled with critically another theme that I identified, a better understanding of how our taxpayers segment, and by the combined effects of what I have described as enabling and regulating, we will make real inroads into that yield.


  282. Thank you, Mr Williams. You will be glad to hear we are almost finished, we are into injury time and there are a couple more questions, I am afraid.
  (Sir Nicholas Montagu) Injury time as distinct from noise time is that, Chairman, or do I have noise time after that as well?

  Chairman: One from Mr Gardiner and one from Mr Rendel.

Mr Gardiner

  283. To Mr Hartnett, if I may. When a criminal is convicted of drug dealing is there a standard procedure to ensure that you are called in to tax their trading activity? I was not clear on the answer that you gave earlier.
  (Mr Hartnett) I am not aware of any standard procedure. Quite often at the end of a trial like that there will be a confiscation order made by the judge in those criminal proceedings and there will be nothing left for us to tax. We do look at cases like that but no procedure of the sort you mentioned.

  284. Will you institute one?
  (Mr Hartnett) We will give it careful thought.

Mr Rendel

  285. You told us that where you have charged somebody £100 because they are a late payer you will repay any excess in the amount of tax that they are then due less than £100. What happens in two other cases. Firstly, if actually they overpay the tax do they get their £100 plus perhaps the £50 that they have overpaid?
  (Sir Nicholas Montagu) Yes, they do.

  286. If they are due £101 do they then have to pay the £1 extra or do they get charged £100 and get £101 back?
  (Sir Nicholas Montagu) If they are owed £101 by us—

  287. Sorry. If they owe less than £100 they get the £100 back. What happens if they owe £101, do they have to pay the £1 extra or do they have to pay the £101 tax and the £100 charge?
  (Sir Nicholas Montagu) They pay £201. You have to have some thresholds.

  Mr Rendel: So if they owe £99 they pay £99 but if they are on £101 they pay £201. What an extraordinary system. I quite understand that it is not your system. I fully understand that it is Parliament's fault and not yours.[21]


  288. Thank you, you have been in that chair now for three hours—
  (Sir Nicholas Montagu) It does not seem a second too long.

  Chairman: You promised us a note on marketing and communication efforts. Thank you for your courtesy and your skill in answering our questions.

21   Ev, Appendix 1, p32. Back

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