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HMRC staff begin work to rule

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HMRC staff have begun five weeks of ‘action short of a strike’ to highlight problems ‘caused by job cuts in the department, and the threat of more privatisation’.

The action will include a ‘work to rule’ and will be followed by strike action in early September, the Public and Commercial Services union said.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘While millionaires in the cabinet wring their hands about the morality of tax avoidance, they are ploughing ahead with plans to cut thousands more jobs from the department responsible for doing something about it.

‘The case for investment in our public services as an alternative to austerity could not be more obvious than it is in HMRC.’

Patrick Stevens, President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation said last month that HMRC should be ‘properly’ resourced to enable it ‘track down and deal with schemers and evaders quickly and efficiently’.

John Barnett, Chairman of the CIOT's Capital Gains Tax and Investment Income Technical Sub-Committee, said one reason for the continued operation of abusive tax avoidance schemes was that HMRC was ‘under-resourced’.

The proposed general anti-abuse rule was an attempt to ‘get a step ahead’ of avoidance schemes, he said. ‘But many worry that the proposal is too imprecise and will create uncertainty, while not catching many of the headline-grabbing cases. Resourcing HMRC properly would be more productive. In austerity times, making cuts in the department which brings in the money seems a strange thing to do.’

‘Minimal disruption’

HMRC said in a statement: ‘We are disappointed with the decision to take action short of a strike, and expect this to cause minimal disruption to our customers.’

This news story was first posted on 31 July 2012