Having cast my eye over the 2018 New Year’s Honours list a couple of days ago, I noticed that Edward Troup, who until recently, served as HMRC’s executive chairman and permanent secretary, had been awarded for his service to HMRC with a knighthood.
Troup a tax lawyer by profession had advised Gordon Brown for a number of years on corporate tax policy before joining HMRC in 2012, initially as tax assurance commissioner.
His many critics including the redoubtable Margaret Hodge MP, then chair of the influential Public Accounts Committee, characterised Troup as a “poacher turned gamekeeper” and flagged up his stiff resistance to Gordon Brown’s general anti-avoidance/abuse rule (GAAR) proposals when working for Simmons & Simmons and quoted his most notable comment that tax was equivalent to legalised extortion (I happen to agree with him on that one!).
Wealth of experience in Tax
However, this did not prevent him taking the HMRC role, which saw him rise to the top job in February 2016. In the words of Chancellor George Osborne, Troup’s “wealth of experience in tax” would be very useful to the department.
In tandem with HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson, he has been at the helm through one of the most turbulent periods at HMRC, during a period of massive organisational change, not to mention closing all HMRC’s offices to the public and overseeing a period of deteriorating service to the public, especially on call waiting times.
In the department’s 2016 accounts, Troup and Thompson boasted of “our ability to deliver six consecutive years of increased tax revenues” and the £2.1bn wrested from the Chancellor to invest in infrastructure and additional compliance activities.
The extra investment is apparently going into technology while HMRC continues to cut back on staff. By 2021, it expects to employ 16% fewer people in 13 regional centres in place of the existing network of more than 100 local offices. In spite of the pair’s financial successes, HMRC’s accounts have continued to be qualified due to the unmeasurable levels of tax credit fraud and errors, which anecdotally have risen significantly whilst the deadly duo have been at the helm.
OTHER TAX NEWS
The UK government has finally published draft legislation for the tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, which is set to implemented on April 6th 2018. There will be two bands – one for soft drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml and a higher one for drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.
Ministers hope that the 20% tax will help tackle the nation’s obesity problem. The government has said it expects the levy to raise £520m in the first year.
The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the levy could add 18p to 24p to the price of a litre of fizzy drink if the full cost is passed on to the consumer.
This amounts to an extra 6p on a regular can of Fanta and Sprite, and an extra 8p on a regular can of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Irn-Bru.
Last week a cross-party group of MPs called for drastic action to tackle the UK’s mountain of unrecycled disposable coffee cups, demanding a new 25p tax on every one used. The members of an influential Commons committee hit out at big-name coffee chains for failing to act on the growing problem and said if all cups are not recycled within five years an outright ban should be placed on them.
In a report published on Friday, they said the Government had “sat on its hands” as the country has managed to throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year.
Ministers have now indicated that a ‘latte tax’ will now be included in the forthcoming White Paper on recycling and environmental matters.
If you would like more detailed information on some aspect of UK Tax, send me an e-mail and I’ll be pleased to advise further.