Monday, March 23, 2009

Will anyone 'pursue relentlessly' MPs who bend their expenses rules?

Tony McNulty MP is being criticised for claiming the 'Additional Costs Allowance' in circumstances that seem to involve 'bending the rules'.

Only a short note on this as I addressed the key points in two previous blog posts:

11/2/08 - Is it one rule for MPs and another rule for the rest of us? I drew an analogy between the way that MPs defend criticism of their expense claims by noting that they only do what is allowed by their (own) rules. If they don't break the law why should they be criticised? Hmmm.

16/3/09 - How far can you bend the rules? I noted that the draft HMRC Charter refers to an expectation that "You can expect HMRC to... Pursue relentlessly those that break or bend the rules". I noted that this was ambiguous as there is no clear agreement as to when 'bending' the rules becomes unacceptable; also that it is breaking the law rather than breaking HMRC rules that should be focus of such activity.

Surely it cannot be reasonable to apply distinct standards to MPs and their rules as compared with taxpayers and the tax rules that apply to all of us?


  1. If my Cynic-o-drive was engaged, I would say:

    I suspect they will be "pursued relentlesesly" in the same way that benefit frauds are being "cracked down" on.

    E.g. Not even slightly. ;)

  2. Yes but the problem is that the tax rules are not the same as for other citizens, in that the enforcement of what rules there are is left to the parliamentary fees office and not to HMRC. So although the officiaese of "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" is used in both the tax rules and the parliamentary rules, the parliamentary rules dont mean the same thing.

    Basically, MPs are exempt from the Incone Tax rules on second homes allowance and probably a lot of other things. The only faint chance the HMRC might stand is on capital gains tax and even so I think there will be such obfuscation there that the authorities (HMRC) will give up.

  3. When I was in HMRC in the 80s I understood the deductibility of the expenses was I believe supervised in the normal way by the tax office dealing with civil servants - Public Departments. I wonder when and why this changed?