Friday, March 25, 2011

BLOG 105


A couple of First-tier Tribunal decisions on penalties caught my eye recently. They are both decisions of Judge Anne Redston and both were dealt with under the Default Paper cases procedure.

Simple cases are allocated by the Tribunal to the Default Paper route. Under this route HMRC set out their statement of case in writing, the taxpayer is entitled to send a written response to the Tribunal (with a copy to HMRC) and the Tribunal decides the case based on those two documents (and any attachments to them) without a hearing. The taxpayer is entitled to ask for a hearing. If he wishes to do so he must do this when he submits his response to the Tribunal.

The idea is partly to save money by eliminating “unnecessary” hearings on minor matters (the taxpayer often did not bother to turn up to hearings before the General Commissioners but simply sent them a letter setting out his case) and partly because some taxpayers are likely to be more comfortable in making their case in writing.

The downside is that the taxpayer only has one chance to make his case and in doing so may not realise what is or is not important.

Heronslea Ltd v HMRC was concerned with a penalty for a late return under the construction industry deduction scheme (CIS). HMRC take CIS very seriously and seem to automatically demand the maximum penalty when things go wrong. In this case Mr Clifton, the owner of Heronslea, had explained that he had posted the return due on 19 June 2009 “in good time so as to meet the deadline”. HMRC did not receive it though until 22 June. It is up to the taxpayer to displace a penalty. Judge Redston cancelled the penalty. She pointed out that the Interpretation Act provides that service of any document “is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post”. As she believed Mr Clifton, she set aside the penalty (albeit that there were previous late returns where HMRC had accepted a succession of excuses as reasonable).

Alan German v HMRC was concerned with a penalty for late submission of a tax return. Judge Redstone upheld the penalty, albeit very reluctantly. The decision begins, “Mr German is an elderly, disabled unrepresented taxpayer who has been taxed via the PAYE system for many years. In the 2007-08 fiscal year he changed employers and too little tax was deducted from his PAYE income”. Here the Interpretation Act worked against the taxpayer as HMRC showed that they had posted a tax return to him, but he had not completed it. The decision quotes that Mr German had said that some of his mail during 2008 may not have been delivered because “a local woman was found guilty having not posted mail and hid it outside where it was damaged”. Judge Redston does not seem to have regarded that as proof that delivery had not been effected, although as HMRC had issued a duplicate return in April 2009 it did not matter unduly. Mr German eventually made an appointment to attend his nerarest HMRC office on 5 January 2010, where they told him what he needed to do, and he ultimately submitted his return on 5 March 2010.

I have concerns about HMRC forcing an elderly, disabled taxpayer to visit them rather than send someone round to talk to him. I share Anne Redston’s concerns that where there is an error in calculating PAYE by an employer it is normally the employer, not the employee, who is required to bear the consequences of his error and to pay the tax, but where there is an error by HMRC (in issuing an incorrect Code number) the taxpayer is expected to bear the consequences of HMRC’s error. I am also sad that HMRC chose to impose penalties (and surcharges for late payment of the tax) on an elderly disabled person who appeared clearly confused about why he should owe tax.

However that is not the purpose of this note. My concern is that in the Heronslea case, Judge Redston said that “HMRC state that all CIS returns are date stamped on the day of receipt and this date is then recorded on the HMRC computer. However, the Tribunal were not provided with the date-stamped CIS return, nor a computer print-out showing the date of receipt, nor any evidence, in relation to the particular HMRC office concerned, as to procedures for opening the post and logging it. The Tribunal thus had evidence … to support HMRC’s case that the return was delivered late”.

I do not have much sympathy for HMRC, who can surely be expected to know what they have to prove. I have a lot of sympathy for Mr German though. Judge Redston pointed out that, “while penalties and surcharges can be susceptible to an insufficiency of funds reasonable excuse defence in accordance with the Steptoe principles, there is insufficient evidence before the Tribunal as to Mr German’s financial situation to allow the Tribunal to consider this argument. Lack of funds therefore does not excuse Mr German from the penalties or surcharges”.

Being a pedant, that is not quite right. Lack of funds may well excuse him in law. What actually does not excuse him, as “an elderly, disabled, unrepresented taxpayer” is that he did not have a good enough understanding of tax law to have appreciated what he needed to put in his letter for the Tribunal to enable it to consider his excuse. Judge Redston similarly said that, “it is possible that Mr German’s disability, or the pain killers, which lead him to be forgetful, might provide him with an alternative reasonable excuse. But Mr German did not put this forward to the Tribunal. I therefore cannot consider it …”.

I am a big fan of paper decisions. I know that a lot of people will be prepared to write a letter to the Tribunal but will be too scared to turn up and explain their case. Accordingly I believe that in the General Commissioners era many people did not pursue their appeals because they were too scared to do so and they were not aware that, if they wrote in, their letter would be considered, albeit possibly in the context that the Commissioners would already be uptight that the taxpayer had not bothered to turn up. (I should stress that I do not believe that would have happened; I am simply saying that the system created a perception that it might).

On the other hand these two cases raise a question in my mind as to what extent under the paper track justice is actually done! It may well be that Mr Clifton and Mr German would not have turned up to a General Commissioners hearing and that the result would have been the same. On the other hand, the General Commissioners sit locally. In theory the First-tier Tribunal is entitled to do so where necessary but the appeal form does not say this; it simply asks, “Please state if you have a preference for the hearing of your appeal to take place, if practicable, in any particular city or town”. It does not invite the taxpayer to say, “Because I am disabled I need the hearing to take place in a part of London that is within two miles of where I live”. The appeal form does say, “If you or anyone coming to a Tribunal has a disability or a particular need, please set out the details below” but this seems to be asked in the context of the venue needing to be able to accommodate the disability; not in the context of the disability needing to determine the locality of the venue.

I do not know what information is given to a taxpayer when his case is allocated to the Default Paper category. The explanatory booklet, “At your hearing” which gives some guidance about evidence says, “Please note that if your appeal is in the Default Paper category, the information provided in this booklet does not apply”, so Mr German might reasonably have concluded that the advice given there was irrelevant to him The booklet, “Making an Appeal” says “Default Paper cases, by their nature, are generally decided by the Tribunal after reading the Notice of Appeal and the other written material provided by you and HMRC. Default Paper cases are dealt with without a hearing, though you may ask for your appeal to be decided at a hearing”. There is no indication there that you may be disadvantaged without a hearing and ought to at least consider asking for one.

Will you really be disadvantaged? I think that if Mr German had turned up for a General Commissioners hearing on his case, the Commissioners would have explained to him the meaning of “reasonable excuse” and why they did not have enough information to decide if he had one. They would then have asked him to explain orally whether there was a reason why he did not have the money to pay the tax – I suspect it may well have been because the tax bill was wholly unexpected and he had little or no savings, but that is simply a guess – and whether his pain killers affected his memory. In the light of the amounts involved they might well have accepted his explanation. Alternatively they would probably have explained to him what further documents they wanted to see (e.g. a summary of his assets and liabilities and income and outgoings, and a letter from his doctor) and adjourned the case for a month to give him time to provide them.

Anne Redston is a friend of mine. I think that If Mr German had asked for an oral hearing she would have done the same. In theory she could herself have imposed an oral hearing on Mr German when she read the papers had she realised that the information they disclosed was inadequate for her to ensure that she fully understood Mr German’s case. But she would have had no means of knowing whether he would have turned up for such a hearing and I suspect that, judicially, she would not even have been entitled to explain to him precisely why she felt that an oral hearing would be sensible. I also suspect that, judicially, once she had started to consider the case in detail, she could have turned it into a hearing; the rules do not seem to me to allow even a judge to change track in midstream.

I think that these two cases highlight two major problems with Default Paper appeals. By excluding oral evidence, they exclude the opportunity for the Tribunal to assess the veracity of the taxpayer (or of the HMRC Officer) so forcing the Tribunal to look for confirmatory evidence. They also prevent the Tribunal from telling the parties what sort of confirmatory evidence it feels that it needs.

I think that practitioners should think twice before allowing an appeal to follow the paper track. That is not of much help to unrepresented taxpayers though, as they are unlikely to read this article. I think that there is a need to enable the Tribunal to call for further paper evidence once it has started to consider the case. There may also be a need for a Tribunal guidance booklet on the evidence standard to which the Tribunal works and the minimum information that a taxpayer needs to produce to have a chance of meeting that standard.


Monday, March 21, 2011

BLOG 104


I am prompted to ask this question by an article in last Friday’s Times, headed, “Summer of strikes feared as pensions lose “gold plating””. The headline does not seem to me to have much, if anything, to do with the article, but, as I believe that the Times has gone downhill over the last 20 years, that does not surprise me unduly.

The article is in fact about Lord Hutton’s report on civil service pensions. It explains his proposals and also that George Osborne said that he would consider them carefully. That seems to me to be an advance on Chancellor Brown, who always seemed to accept reports he had commissioned without question, as though doing so relieved him of the need to make difficult decisions.

Are Lord Hutton’s recommendations fair? I don’t have a clue. I suspect that no-one else, including Lord Hutton and George Osborne, has a clue either. That is because, in my view, he was asked the wrong question. He was asked to “conduct a fundamental structural review of public service pension provision and to make recommendations … that are sustainable and affordable in the long term, fair to both the public service workforce and the taxpayer”. The question that I think he should have been asked is to consider whether the remuneration package of public sector workers is fair in comparison with people doing comparable jobs in the private sector. I do not see how fairness can be achieved without making such a comparison. To compare pension provision for public service workers with what is sustainable and affordable to the taxpayer is like comparing apples and pears. That is in effect saying that if the country cannot afford to treat civil servants fairly should there be some sort of compromise so both sides suffer a degree of unfairness.

Which brings me to remuneration packages. The remuneration package is the price that an employer is prepared to pay to obtain the services of an employee. In many cases the package will simply consist of a cash salary. In others it will be made up of several elements. For example, there may be a salary, a pension contribution, access to a subsidised canteen, health insurance, a round sum expense allowance, and a company car. It would surely be ridiculous in such a case to look solely at the cash element of the package and ignore the rest. Yet that is what the government – and the press – seem to be doing with civil servants. The Times tells me that a 52 year old part-time cook supervisor in Wolverhampton is “earning about £10,000 a year and expects to retire on about £3,000 a year”. This is incorrect. She is earning a remuneration package consisting of (at a minimum) salary and the provision of the right to a pension. I think that the cost to a private sector employer of providing her with a pension of £3,000 p.a. is likely to be in the region of £4,000 p.a., in which case she actually has a remuneration package of £14,000, not £10,000.

However we cannot assess whether this is fair as we have to guess at the package because the government, for all its talk of transparency, does not disclose the value of the lady’s remuneration package – the pension element needs to be calculated actuarially and I suspect the she may also get free meals while at work. What is clear is that it is not possible to compare the £10,000 cash element of her remuneration package with the cash element of the remuneration package paid by, say, Serco to someone doing a similar job, as we do not know the value of the other elements of the remuneration package of either, and the mix of benefits is unlikely to be identical.

I am puzzled how Lord Hutton can seriously talk about fairness in the context of civil service pensions without putting the pension into the context of the worker’s remuneration package.


Friday, March 18, 2011

BLOG 103


A: When David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, is involved. I was reading over the weekend last October’s debates on the Finance (No 2) Bill. (Yes, I’m a bit behind with my reading but there’s an awful lot that I try to read).

David was explaining to the Finance Bill Committee, Clause 8 (which is now section 8 of the Finance (No 3) Act 2010). This gives HMRC power to regulate the time at, and manner in, which people who are required to deduct tax from certain interest payments have to account for it to HMRC. I thought his explanation worth sharing. To assist those not used to parliamentary language, I have put my plain English interpretation in square brackets.

“I am sure that the Committee is united in working to ensure that tax forms are as accessible and convenient as possible … HMRC has carried out a lot of work on customer segmentation and it is important that the customer segmentation that it has identified as being willing and able is as big a part of the population as possible [HMRC has divided taxpayers into those it believes want to comply but don’t know how, those that want to comply and try their best, and those that don’t want to comply]. There are many who are willing, but not necessarily able to comply, as they would like. HMRC must engage with such people and ensure that the payment of taxes when they are due is as accurate, accessible and convenient as possible …

The aim of the clause is to provide a regulation-making power for payment of interest. The current procedures can be difficult for taxpayers to use. [The procedure was that the taxpayer had to write a letter to HMRC saying that he had made a payment of £X of interest to Y, he had deducted tax at 20% and was enclosing a cheque for the amount deducted]. For example, at present, the procedures state that the taxpayer must send an account of payment to HMRC without delay, without specifying what “without delay” means or in what form the account must be sent [which as far as I am aware has not given rise to major difficulties for taxpayers but did of course mean that it was very difficult for HMRC to impose a penalty if people were a bit tardy or did not provide all of the information that HMRC want].

With the new regulation-making power in place, it will be possible to modernise the old procedure [“modernise” is a great synonym for “complicate”]. For example it will be possible to provide a bespoke form, and consideration can be given to aligning the procedures with the equivalent rules that apply to companies for which there are long-established regulation-making powers [Actually there aren’t. For companies the rules are set out in primary legislation, but David obviously does not feel it reasonable to ask parliament to spend time on legislating for mere individuals. That can be left to HMRC. The rules on companies, incidentally, are that they have to make quarterly returns]. Any regulations made under the power will be subject to consultation and an impact assessment [We don’t know if we are going to make regulations; it is simply that the Coalition feels it important to give the appearance to citizens that the State is all powerful so it is important that HMRC are seen to have very extensive powers even if they don’t actually want to use them. This will indicate to citizens that anything HMRC want to do is probably authorised by parliament].

… It is precisely because we are mindful of the need to have regard to the convenience of the taxpayer that the regulation-making power is needed. Without it, it would not be possible to improve the current procedures in this area, provide certainty for taxpayer or reduce compliance burdens”.

[I really like that last bit. We have a legal myth that citizens know the law. In tax this myth is actually a State cudgel, as if taxpayers know the law and don’t make their tax returns in accordance with the law, that surely means that they have not taken care to get the return right and should be charged a penalty to encourage them to study the law more thoroughly. Be that as it may, Mr Gauke wants to “reduce compliance burdens” by requiring a citizen not only to know the law, but also to know the regulations and, instead of simply writing a letter to HMRC, to download a form from HMRC’s website (and even HMRC staff tell me not to use the HMRC search engine as is easier to Google what I want from their site), fill it in and send it to HMRC].

The sooner the electorate brings back Labour the better if the Big Society actually means more and more regulation of things that even Mr Brown and Mr Blair trusted us to work out for ourselves.


Friday, March 11, 2011

BLOG 102


The main accountancy bodies have asked the government to defer the compulsory filing with HMRC of accounts and tax computations using iXBRL, which is due to come into effect from 1 April this year. The government has refused.

That probably means very little to most readers. I should therefore explain what the row (albeit the professional bodies would probably recoil at my describing this as a row) is all about.

In 2005 the then government asked Lord Carter of Coles to look at electronic filing of tax returns. Lord Carter recommended that this should become compulsory (subject for a minor exception) for all companies from 1 April this year. However he added a very important proviso that it should be compulsory only if HMRC were sufficiently advanced by that time that the software could cope with it.

The row hinges on that proviso. HMRC say that their software is robust and can cope with it. However they were tardy in getting to the stage where they could provide to software houses the specification that the commercial software that most accountants use needs to meet.

David Gauke, the government Minister responsible for HMRC, in rebuffing the professional bodies, said that his understanding is that all of the software houses bar one can meet the 1 April date, and that one has promised to have an interim solution in place by 1 April.

No problem then? Well, my understanding is that the one is Sage. If you have never heard of Sage, imagine the government saying that all internet search engines have to identify on screen contract details for the owners of the website that one enters, and that everyone can do it other than Google. I suspect that most people would say that the whole thing is a waste of time without Google.

Well, Sage is the Google of tax software! It is ridiculous for anyone to suggest that there is a robust system for electronic delivery of corporation tax returns if Sage are not on board.

Yes, Sage have an interim solution. But what is an interim solution? I suspect that it is something that can cope with the simple 80% of returns but cannot deal properly with the other 20%. I should stress that the other 20% are not necessarily major companies with complicated affairs. Most of them are likely to be tiny companies that happen to have entered into a one-off transaction which is a bit out of the ordinary.

Lord Carter was of course an advisor to Gordon Brown at the time of his report. Gordon asked him to implement his recommendations, which he accepted in full. I do not know whether George Osborne asked Lord Carter to continue with the task. I think that David Gauke’s response to the accountancy bodies put up two fingers to the integrity of Lord Carter. If George Osborne sacked Lord Carter, I am surprised that he has not publicly protested the decision not to delay compulsory e-filing until the electronic world is able to cope with it. If Lord Carter is still the government’s guru for electronic tax filing, I am shocked that he has not publicly protested this decision, as I think it utterly undermines the cornerstone of his recommendations.


Monday, March 07, 2011

BLOG 101


The First-tier Tribunal held in the case of John Price v HMRC that roller blinds are building materials for VAT purposes. Accordingly Mr Price, a do-it-yourself builder, was entitled to recover the VAT that he had paid for such blinds when constructing his house.

HMRC subsequently put out an HMRC Brief which caught my eye. This says, “HMRC’s view remains unchanged in that roller blinds (and other “window furniture”) are not “building materials” and will not be changing its policy. The Tribunal Chairman did not hear any evidence on the point of what is and what is not a “building material” for VAT purposes but reached his conclusion as a matter of judicial notice, that is, as a common sense fact”.

The First-tier Tribunal is not a court and its decisions do not create precedents. HMRC are therefore entitled to ignore them. Their practice in relation to VAT seems to be to tell people that they are ignoring a decision if they think that other people will use it to reduce their VAT bills but to leave people guessing in most cases whether or not they intend to follow a decision. So there is nothing unusual in HMRC saying that they propose to ignore a Tribunal decision.

What caught my eye was the statement that, “the Tribunal Chairman did not hear any evidence on this point” HMRC were represented at the Tribunal. Did the Chairman put his hands over his ears. I doubt it. It is far more probable that he heard no evidence because HMRC chose not to present any to him. It seems to me outrageous for HMRC to, in effect, say, “We chose not to explain why we do not think roller blinds are building materials, so the Tribunal could not take account of our views because we hid them from him. Because of this we are entitled to ignore his decision as it took no account of our views”.

I do however quite like the bit about the judge reached his conclusion as a commonsense fact”, which is a further reason why HMRC think that it must be wrong! Everyone surely knows that commonsense is alien to VAT.

HMRC go on to explain, “It has never been HMRC’s policy that the zero-rate should apply to all goods that were incorporated into residential property by builders during its construction”. In the past HMRC have often told me that they do not make the law; their role is simply to enforce the law. If HMRC do not make the law, I do not understand how HMRC can have a policy on what should be zero-rated. Surely only people who make the law can have such a policy.

Actually in the John Price case the Tribunal decision recounts that, “HMRC rejected the claim in relation to the roller blinds because they considered that they were not “building materials”

… I accept that the roller blinds have been incorporated in the building in question in the course of the construction works – in argument Mrs Orimoloye [Counsel for HMRC] informed me that HMRC accept that VAT on curtain rails are eligible for refund on this basis”. Publication VAT 431NB is the notes to the claim form. It states “Goods (Building Materials) you cannot claim for: … curtains, blinds, carpets”. Notice 719, which is the detailed guidance for do-it-yourself builders, says, “Articles accepted as being “ordinarily” incorporated in a building are listed below. This is not a complete list: … curtain poles and rails”.

So what do HMRC really think? The HMRC brief states firmly that, “roller blinds (and other “window furniture”) are not “building materials” yet VAT 431NB includes blinds in the category of building materials, albeit not ones ordinarily installed by builders, and Note 719 says that curtain poles – which I would myself have thought of as “window furniture” - not only are building materials but are building materials ordinarily installed by builders. Poor Mr Price surely cannot be criticised for having decided from all this guidance that roller blinds are very different to simple blinds and much nearer to building materials than curtain poles. As Alice said, “Curiouser and curiouser”!


Friday, March 04, 2011

BLOG 100


I have just finished reading an HMRC Press Notice entitled, “New penalties for offshore tax dodgers”. It quotes Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, having said, “The game is up for those going offshore to evade tax”.

Leaving aside the fact that, assuming that he has been accurately quoted, his State comprehensive school education seems to have left him with a poor grasp of English – those “going offshore” will actually have no liability to UK tax to evade as they will cease to be UK resident, whereas I suspect that he actually has in mind those staying here and investing money offshore – the references to tax dodgers and tax evaders hides the fact that Mr Gauke intends to heavily penalise those with a limited grasp of the UK tax system who have the misfortune to be born in one country rather than another. Not by accident, I should add, but deliberately! Read on. He is personally aware of the issue of such people as he himself raised it when in opposition.

What HMRC’s colourful language is presaging is that Mr Gauke has decided to introduce from 6 April this year the enhanced penalties in relation to offshore income that Mr Darling rushed through parliament without debate in the dying days of the last government. Although these penalties were not debated by parliament, they were alluded to last April on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill both by Mr Gauke himself and by Mark Hoban, who were the lead speakers for the then opposition. Mark Hoban, now the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said

“Clause 36 … has been criticised by the Low Incomes Tax Reform group about the impact that it could have on unrepresented low-income taxpayers. Let me quote from its representations. “Many unrepresented taxpayers who will be caught by these provisions actually come from overseas territories, which are likely to be placed in categories 2 or 3. Will a Ghurkha be affected because we do not have a double taxation agreement with Nepal? Will a nurse coming from a West Indian island without the “correct” HMRC designation be affected disproportionately? Is every mistake in relation to a source of income or gains in their home country to be penalised at one-and-a-half or double the normal rate, simply because of where they come from?” The Financial Secretary will no doubt be aware of the experiences of the Minister for Borders and Immigration and the Under-Secretary of State for Defence … They have both come off worse after locking horns with the Ghurkhas. Does he want to be the Ghurkhas’ third scalp? We need to think carefully about how those on low incomes are going to be able to comply with them”.

Sadly the then Minister, Sarah McCarthy-Fry did not have time to respond to any of these questions. However in winding up for the Conservatives, David Gauke himself said, “My hon. Friend also talked about clause 36, which relates to penalties in respect of offshore income, and might affect the nationals of countries with which we do not have tax information exchange agreements. He also highlighted the position of the Ghurkhas who have settled here, and raised the prospect of Joanna Lumley turning her attentions to Treasury Ministers; they may or may not find them an appealing thought … We will let those clauses through. Tackling avoidance is a perfectly reasonable intention – we have no difficulty with it – but we make a commitment that we will listen to representations made by professional bodies on the technical and practical implications of the Bill, and if appropriate return to those matters”.

Since taking over responsibility for tax matters, Mr Gauke has not actually sought representations on the Finance Act 2010, so there may have been nothing for him to listen to – I, along with others, I suspect, had assumed that he would give further thought to the representations that had already been made. In any event his “listening” period is clearly now over. He has not thought it appropriate to return to this matter but has gone ahead with introducing Mr Darling’s legislation.

The reason for the references above to categories 2 and 3 is that, where a country is in category 2 any penalty for failure to disclose income from that country will be at 1.5 times the normal rate, and where the country is in category 3 it will be at 2 times the normal rate.

I have no sympathy for those who evade tax. However I have a great deal of sympathy for those who do not understand tax and are, in effect, penalised for their ignorance. Assuming that the undisclosed income is picked up by HMRC, not by the taxpayer, there will be a minimum penalty where a category 2 country is involved of 22.5% of the tax and for a category 3 country, 30%. Mr Gauke has now revealed that he has in fact put Nepal into Category 2. In the West Indies, Anguilla is in Category 1, the neighbouring islands of Barbuda and Antigua are in Category 3, the next island, Guadeloupe, is in Category 2 with, the one next to that, Dominica is in Category 3. Next to that is Martinique (Category 2) and then Barbados (Category 3). The category into which a country falls depends on the scope of the exchange of information provision that HMRC has negotiated with the tax authority of the country concerned. The poor taxpayer of course has no control over what treaties his government enters into. Nor does he have control over the order in which HMRC choose to negotiate treaties – I suspect that Category 3 Caribbean countries are there not because of a reluctance to exchange information but because HMRC has not yet got round to asking them to negotiate a new treaty, as they do not have the resources to deal with many at a time.

You may be thinking the worries are a bit far-fetched. Is a low paid worker in the UK really likely to keep their savings in Dominica? Yes. The nurse or bus conductor who came to England from Dominica some years ago probably sends his or her surplus money back home to help the family and to save for retirement. When the nurse came to England the interest on such savings was not taxable. Now it is because the nurse or bus conductor is likely to be one of those nasty non-doms. The law was changed in 2008 to tax non-doms on worldwide income, whether or not it was remitted to the UK, unless the non-dom pays a fee of £30,000 p.a. to defer paying the tax on overseas income until it is brought into the UK. It is most unlikely that the average nurse or bus conductor is aware that they were affected by this change or will have the resources to pay a £30,000 fee.

But, sadly, coming here to work hard in David Cameron’s Britain apparently labels you as a tax dodger if you dare to send money home.