Whiter than white Hartnett wants *you* to stop diddling the country


Good old Dave Hartnett. The permanent secretary to HMRC has done nothing but good for the country, HMRC and the ordinary taxpayer during his time in office. Now, in his wise old grandfatherly way, he is offering some much-needed advice to the wealthy middle classes who are “diddling” the country out of much needed cash.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Dave H said that householders have a duty to ensure that other people do not evade paying their share of tax.  “Paying a builder or cleaner in cash, allowing them to evade VAT or income tax, will result in even deeper government cuts to public services, he says. “People who contribute to the cash economy cannot then complain about austerity measures” he added, sternly.

Hartnett went on to say that the Revenue is now aggressively looking to cut down on tax loopholes that have enabled the rich to avoid paying their fair share.

“There are loopholes for wealthy people which have got to be closed down. We have not yet got the same head of steam up, addressing those loopholes as we have with business loopholes, but we will be there soon.” What the country’s most senior taxman seems to be missing, however, is that a clampdown on cash in hand won’t actually affect those wealthy homeowners who could probably afford to pay the VAT, but will instead get the ‘working class’ builder, plumber or electrician into fiscal trouble. Still, they are only mere tradesmen after all.

Mr Hartnett encourages anyone who suspects wrongdoing to telephone the Revenue’s whistle-blower hotline and tip off inspectors. “Cash has been a problem for a long time. The people who are worried about it should use our whistle-blowing line to tell us. We are getting better and better at finding people who receive cash,” he said. However, please remember that it’s not your neighbours you are shopping but the greasy oik who does work for them.

Of course there are two sides to every story. Tradesmen could be pressured by homeowners to do a cash job or lose the work, or perhaps they are just wilful VAT disregarders. However, if the homeowner does get a benefit, perhaps there ought to be some kind of penalty for them too- after all they know there is tax evasion going on, even if they are not the ones legally responsible?

Still, it’s a good job Dave H is such an upstanding member of the community, with a proper sense of what’s right and all that.

Only last month he was accused by MPs of being “unduly cosy” with big companies and of applying double standards to corporations and ordinary taxpayers after allegedly agreeing “sweetheart deals” with companies including Goldman Sachs and Vodafone that allegedly let them off large bills worth millions of pounds to HMRC.

Dave disagrees. He says HMRC is operating a “level playing field” and that big firms are treated in a similar way to individual taxpayers. He is also scathing of the “disservice” the enquiry has done to HMRC and the country, which has “unfairly damaged the image of HMRC.” Yes. It was clearly the enquiry that was the travesty, not the alleged writing off of tens of millions of pounds in taxpayer’s money by a man who was taken out for meals on 107 occasions over a three year period, often by big companies. He claims they were sandwiches or speaking engagements.

Still, Dave won’t have to bother himself with the nasty business of taxing lovely corporations anymore. He is retiring this summer with a £1.7million pension pot and “lots of offers” from private companies.

Still, in better news, planned HMRC strikes next week mean that you can now file your 2010/11 tax return up to 2 February without incurring a penalty. Officially the deadline is still 31 January, but in case people can’t get through for help, there will be a two day ‘grace’ period before penalties, that cannot be reduced as in previous year, are levied.

About 600,000 people are expected to file their returns on 31 January, and about 90,000 people are expected to phone the call centres with questions.


  • Alexis
    Fat lot of good paying the builder in cash and then turning up to work to find out you've just been made redundant. Never mind though eh Dave? The nice warm fuzzy feeling inside you got from paying the builder properly will keep you going when you have no money to pay for heating. What a prick.
  • Nick T.
    Do these "lots of offers" of work come from companies keen for his advice on how to pay their taxes in full?
  • Phil
    Right... How many builders/plumbers/roofers etc can you find that doesn't want cash in hand. I don't mean to be funny but I haven't found one yet willing to take a cheque let alone a bank payment. The only exception to this rule is the big players and they aren't interested the little £500> jobs you usually need doing.
  • MrRobin
    This guy is a massive bell end. First of all, he automatically assumes that a payment in cash means it won't be declared for tax purposes and everyone is obviously a crook. Secondly, why should I be giving up my convenience of paying in cash, when the onus is on the builder/cleaner etc to sort out their tax affairs. Thirdly, he himself has let companies like Vodafone off the hook for billions of pounds in tax so is absolutely in no position to be preaching about 'missing' tax revenues Fourthly, why do you think such people go so out of their was to avoid taxes, perhaps it's because they are too high in the first place, and that everyone thinks that the value for money they get is so piss poor. Fifthly, just fuck off.
  • Mike H.
    "Do you take credit card? How would you like me to 'fuck off'?"
  • C. A.
    "Cash has been a problem for a long time" - It certainly has in my household.
  • jiva
    *ring ring* Hi HMRC... Hi I'd like to report a fraud please. Yeah he's going to be getting a huge payment shortly for shafting us all before retiring. ~ who would that be then? just your boss. Now sort it aht. Honestly I have not enough swear words for the carp, yes fish that open and close their mouths and fail to achive anything, they are spouting
  • Natty
    Yes Dave thats right it those builders and cleaners being paid in cash that will force the goverment to make deeper cuts to services, not the millions spent on failed IT or other shite projects goverments think up not to mention all the other financial waste. Anyway if I spend my £10.00 cash on petrol you get some tax dont you. Bloody nobhead accountant.
  • Paul
    @Sam It's Tax Evasion not Tax Avoidance. 6th paragraph. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal (IE exploiting the mentioned loopholes), tax evasion is not. I expect you know that just wanted to point it out. Good article though :)
  • Sam T.
    Paul- you are entirely correct and I have amended it. And of course I knew that. I was just testing to see if *you* knew...
  • CapitalistBitchBoy
    Helps Make Rich Cunts
  • shinkyshonky
    Oh the irony of Mr Hartnett http://www.blottr.com/uk/breaking-news/shaft-small-business-suck-big http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/crackdown-on-small-firms-a-blind-eye-for-big-business-6284205.html
  • Rodger R.
    This Dave guy can feast on sh1t.
  • Brad
    Cash is evil! Unless its being paid to HMRC.....
  • confused
    Hmmm so they're going after the wealthy tax dodgers...?? Will they go after Tony Blair??? e.t.c yeah right! This is just another old school scam, make the ordinary public feel guilty... your country needs you..blah blah blah.. you need to pay your TV licence e.t.c Ordinary gulible citizen will give up their £££, their freedom, their everything for the powers that be...
  • Terry L.
    The HMRC is an excellent example of the institutionalised corruption in this country. They have been set up as almost a secret society - not answerable to voters. They support tax loopholes for the rich, they help rich tax-evaders with feeble repayment plans if they do get reported and the Custom arm steals anything its officers want from legitimate importers while taking backhanders from illegal importers. It ws always thus and they have no reason to change: they are not answerable
  • ninsim
    Hartnett is an utter disgrace having conspired with Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs to hep them avoid billions in Tax he has the gall to criticise the public. Yes he is retiring but this is simply a polite way of giving him the push for his blatant licking of corporate fundaments. Like bent coppers, Government apparatchiks don't get kicked out, they are allowed to retire and retain their pensions etc.
  • Martin
    Everyone should pay the taxes they owe - Vodafone, the bankers and the builders too.
  • Sicknote
    I hope that when Mr Hartnett is enjoying a quiet summers day in his country pile the window cleaner knocks the door demands a VAT receipt.... What a fecking nonse to think that the cash-in-hand market hurts the country; I bet my cleaner spends her cash-in-hand wages on petrol & groceries that all contribute to the taxation merry-go-round.

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