Sunday, May 24, 2009

9 Cabinet Members Charge YOU for Personal Tax Advice

Just when you thought the MP expenses scandal couldn't get any worse, it just did. Tomorrow's Telegraph reveals that nine - just think about that, nine - members of the Cabinet used taxpayer's money to pay for accounts to advise on their PERSONAL (!) tax returns, totalling £11,000. If I used my company's money to pay for accountants advice my shareholders would sack me. Alistair Darling used taxpayer's money for advice on the renting out of one of his own properties. Unbelievable. And in other highlowlights...

  • Ed Balls tried to reclaim the cost of two Remembrance Wreaths
  • Harriett Harman charged the taxpayer £10,000 for media training
  • Jacqui Smith charged the taxpayer £240 for an iPhone for her husband

I don't know why I should be shocked by any of this, but I am. Will we be told on Tuesday that the Shadow Cabinet have done something similar? I'd really like to hope not.

I wonder if Gordon Brown will find all this "completely unacceptable". Only for Hazel Blears, natch.

59 comments:

James Burdett said...

That is exactly half as there are only 22 salaried members of the Cabinet. Spectacular.

Tom said...

I hope he wasn't just using the iPhone to look at porn.

Liz said...

Harman needs to ask for her money back.

Oliver Drew said...

You can just about justify the media training I think - though it is pretty hard to!

However, you cannot justify the accounting and you cannot justify the iPhone...shocking shocking shocking.

Lazy Student said...

Hmm. Iphone for a member of her staff? Nowhere near as bad as the other two in my book. As for the personal tax claims - pretty disgusting.

Michaela said...

Why did the Telegraph sat on this obviously sensational story? Will we discover on Day 94 that Brown flipped 11 Downing Street?!

Plato said...

Stephen Nolan is like a dog with two tails on R5.

And don't forget that they don't pay Stamp Duty or tax on the benefit-in-kind for that £24k of allowances either.

I can't decide if I ought to be appalled or cry with laughter at their stupidity/venality.tan

Mirtha Tidville said...

Finally some dirt on Mad Hattie...£10k for `advice` by a media trainer...Now whilst it clearly didnt work its still a damn cheek..As for Balls, well little more than I expected from pond life.....nice to see Jackboots back in the thick of it again though......

el-sid said...

Especially baffling since they made their expenses tax-free.

Alistair - a hint for you mate, if you find the tax system a bit complicated how about moving to a flat rate?

Anonymous said...

C@nts...absolute c@nts!

anonaLon said...

Iain,

I'm going to be serious for once.

We need someone like yourself to speak out and say that this Government is completely corrupt. I was brought up (in Tunbridge Wells!) to believe that we did not "DO" corruption in Britain. How wrong they were.....

Personally, my view is that every man or woman who is in prison for fraud or theft (without violence) should be released. MP's are the ultimate hypocrites. They passed laws that put others in prison for lesser offences than they have committed themselves. It's like they are all taking illegal drugs every weekend yet they have made it illegal for the masses to do it themselves.

If the British democracy is to be saved, we need an emergency election. The Westminster Parliament is a JOKE. Do MP's realise this?

With the power of the internet, it's not impossible that an alternative group of British men and women will not get together and form an alternative parliament which will challenge Westminster. There is no respect for Westminster any more.(understatement!)

Discuss etc....

Conand said...

The Tax advice thing is (or certainly should be) a Labour 'Back To Basics'.

Conand said...

Oh, and in regards to his wreath is Blinky going to be pilloried by Labour activists in the way Gray (rightly) was by Conservative activists?

trevorsden said...

Harman should ask for OUR money back.

Darling says - “Like many MPs, I employed an accountant to prepare tax returns for each of the years in question to ensure that the correct amount of tax was paid.”
Like we were employing his accountant to make sure he paid the maximum of allowable tax?

Alex said...

Why is the tax payer paying for mebers of the government to take tax advice. They propose and debate our tax legislation. That is what they get paid to do. Why do we then have to reimburse the cost of having somebody tell them what they have done?

DiscoveredJoys said...

Will the government buy me rememberance wreaths?

Will the government pay for my media training?

Will the government buy me an Iphone?

No, thought not. Why should I buy them wreaths, training or Iphones with my taxes?

Matt said...

Ed Balls trying to reclaim for remembrance wreaths, does this man have no respect. Any person who tries to claim for remembrance wreaths is an insult to our armed forces and those who fought for our freedoms

Anonymous said...

Giles Chichester breached European Parliament rules over a five-year period. Paying more than £400,000 for office services to a company of which he was a director.
Giles Chichester is still number one on the Conservative list for the South West. 'Here I am leading that process for the last couple of months and – whoops a daisy...'

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Smith & hubbie supporting the mobile pornography industry. I think that's the kind of industry Brown talks about to get us out of the recession. Think of the potential.

Alan Douglas said...

Nice to know that the bloody chancellor doesn't understand his tax forms any more than the rest of us poor folk.

Throw then out, and all their pettyfogging rules and forms with them.

Sadly, I fear this last is unlikely to happen. Remember Michael Tarzan's bonfire ? Thought not.

Alan Douglas

weggis said...

Liz @ 10:48pm

NO! WE need to ask for our money back!

Anonymous said...

This is just so disgraceful. I seriously wonder if this current government will last long enough to be able to call the next election at a time of its own choosing. I hope not. I don't know precisely what can be done, or who could do it (Her Majesty dissolves parliament? Military coup?) but I think that this government ought to be forcibly removed as soon as possible.

But then again, removed, to be replaced by what? A conservative government? Your speculative question "Will we be told on Tuesday that the Shadow Cabinet have done something similar?" - hmmph, the question almost begs to answer itself: Of course we will, because there can be almost no doubt; they have.

Nick said...

He's in charge of the tax system, and its far to complex for him to understand and submit a correct tax form. Instead he gets us to pay to submit his forms.

The only positive thing to come out of this may be a flat tax.

The Grim Reaper said...

At this rate, it would be easier for the Telegraph just to name the politicians who HAVEN'T claimed for anything dodgy.

Michaela said "Why did the Telegraph sat on this obviously sensational story?"

It's simple. They're letting politicians twist in the wind. Let them suffer a bit.

howard thomas said...

I've nearly heard it all now! Nearly in as much as I haven't heard the one about the MP claiming staff allowances for 'sexual services' Its probably just a matter of time!!!

howard thomas said...

No wonder this government has deliberately stalled the building of new prisons to cope with demand and then arranged to let prisoners out after serving about a quarter of their sentence. They were obviously aware that is where many MPs should end up , and they are hoping that there will not be enough room to accomodate them all !!

Huge_Bailout said...

Iain, I was reading through my MPs redacted expenses during your radio show at the weekend. The MP in question, Hugh Bayley (Labour, City of York), posted on them on his website.

He has been claiming around £500 a year for an accountant to assist with his tax return. I was annoyed. I immediately posted a comment on the local paper's website (which had run the story about the expense details being published, but didn't actually analyse them). They could have beaten The Telegraph to the scoop (kind of), but they just deleted all of the comments the following day. Oh well.

Two other things got me about Hugh Bayley's expenses.

1. He is claiming for interest on a £350,000 mortgage - but he became an MP in 1992; so why does he need to borrow so much? That must have been a great time to snap up a bargain London property.

2. He claimed over £500 for a digital SLR camera in 2007/8 from his communications allowance. That's annoying to start with. But in 2008 he stood up in Parliament and said (according to Hansard) that he was planning to take a picture on the tube and use it to enter a photography. Nice that us taxpayers are funding hobbies for underworked MPs.

Anonymous said...

A Chancellor responsible for a tax system so complicated that he needs professional tax advice himself is the epitome of incompetence.

What a bunch of morons.

Fausty said...

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor to pay for tax advice (using OUR money) must surely show that he does not sufficiently understand the tax system of which he's supposed to be in command.

Should this become widely known, we might see an outbreak of civil disobedience / tax revolt.

Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

I think most people would agree that charging the taxpayers for remembrance wreaths is particularly disgusting, if the Telegraph are correct on this. I was wondering what Ed Balls would eventually be exposed for, and I would have guessed that it would be something along those lines. What a horrible little man.

john miller said...

This is all wonderfully poetic.

The man who helps write the tax laws makes them so complicated he doesn't understand them.

A fleet of accountants for half the cabinet over several years costs about the same as third rate advice (or perhaps she's just a third rate pupil) on the meedja for one person for one year.

You really do get the feeling that all the stinky laws that have been passed by this lot in the last 12 years are stinky because they were conceived in the few seconds of the day not devoted to tax avoidance and property speculation.

Scrobs... said...

Perhaps the accountant they used wasn't sure of the rules, and didn't turn up to the lecture on Capital Gains Tax, and how to flip things without the boss noticing...

Dick the Prick said...

Why don't we just accept the realities of the situation and give all our money to New Labour and then submit claims for costs naturally incurred by err... living? 9p tin of beans, 50p pint of milk, 3 cups of tea a day (anything more would be bourgois decadence.

I think it's a runner.

Love Alan Johnson's call for a referendum on PR - hmm. Tosser. Changing one's will a few days before death and don't mention Lisbon. I physically despise them all - they have had no direction for 16 years except win, at any cost, win. And now... well, now UK Plc is screwed.

If anyone can tell me why we're paying for Scot, Welsh & NI assemblies at what? £200k a pop each, then I'll apply to the government for a chitty entitling me to get them a lentil smoothie.

strapworld said...

The BBC, world service and Today programme resident apologist, this morning at 5am and 6am said these expenses were'allowed' and dismissed the story.

I have a question for Mr Cameron.For how much longer must BBC License fee-payers have to watch their money being wasted on the broadcast of lies and outright propaganda in favour of a totalitarian state before the Conservative Party says something?

Cynic said...

Why are we so surprised that Darling would do this? As recent events show he isn't very good at basic economics.

strapworld said...

Reading Huge_Bailout and this present exposure. The Commons Photographic Club must be over subscribed!

Smith, the most unsuitable Home Secretary, ever! has had four digital camera's, plus an iphone for her husband!!

Seriously, if Downing Street say no rules were broken, why then did not all cabinet members claim it?

I hope they release Prescott's that will be interesting. Boxing Gloves, Speech Therapist,Media Training,

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:42pm 24th May -
"Giles Chichester is still number one on the Conservative list for the South West."

Please tell me this isn't true! If it is true it makes a nonsense of Cameron's actions against Westminster MP's.

Anonymous said...

So much for "Tax needn't be taxing".

Obviously too taxing for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Anonymous said...

Iain have you decided whether to stand as an MP.

Are you happy to tell your readers yet?

Anonymous said...

Am really impressed with Harman's little racket. A cool ten thou for some bosh-----oh, call it meedja training if you must! ----

no messing around with the grubby little sums those other MP's from comprehensives are bothering with

-always thought the gal had style.

phantom said...

The sequel to 'Phantom Mortgages' seems to be 'Phantom Electricians'.
According to The Sunday Herald, Jim Devine MP claimed £2K for electrical work but unfortunately the firm doesn't seem to exist. Or the building, street, VAT number or telephone number. Oops.
http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2510018.0.scots_mp_claimed_2000_for_electrical_work_carried_out_by_phantom_firm.php

John Moss said...

MPs should be self-employed small businesses and their entire remuneration be paid in the form of a fee to cover pay, staff and office costs, including a variable amount for travel to and accommodation in their constituencies, based on the actual cost of renting a two bed flat there.

As with all small businesses, they would then have to justify the amounts spent in running that business to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs based on the same rules as everybody else. The Green Book could then simply be scrapped.

Perversely, this would allow them to claim the cost of accountancy advice, albeit not for personal investments outside the business, as Darling has done, and only as a business cost, not a tax free expense.

Anonymous said...

Balls' response is on his website http://www.edballs.co.uk/index.jsp?i=3993

"The claim for a wreath was submitted in error by a staff member, as part of reimbursement for the up front costs she paid for organising two veterans badge presentation ceremonies for constituents, including for room hire at Parkside Methodist Church and Wrenthorpe Village Hall. Ed paid for wreaths every year – in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 - and this claim should never have been submitted in 2007. As soon as it was brought to Ed’s attention by the Fees Office he immediately reimbursed the staff member personally as he has done every other year. No erroneous payment was made by the Fees Office."

Flemingcrag said...

I have had to swallow some guff in my three(+)score years;
.Santa Claus
.Fairies and Elves at the bottom of the garden
.Babies are found under cabbages
.Labour works
but, this one takes the biscuit,
"Labour Cabinet Ministers employ Accountants to MAXIMISE their payments to the Taxman" !!!!

Captain Haddock said...

Sorry Iain. Getting bored of the expenses stuff now. Can we have something else please?

Robert Beveridge said...

If it was in the rules to claim tax advice why didn't they all do it? THis is ridiculous - I also pay an accountant because my affairs are complex but regard this as my own expense to ensure my affairs are in order. Scandalously cynical.

Carl said...

So now we condemn too much independent review, its just been proven that most of our MP's cannot be trusted with financial autonomy, therefore if it means paying £11,000 to balance the figures in general, the sum is rather modest.

strapworld said...

Anonymous 9.06am. Chichester was cleared by Cameron's committe that looked into it all!!!!!

I say no more save this!
Do not hold your breath that any Tory MP will be shown the door by his new committee!

Lee said...

Shows the contempt that Ed Balls shows for the military and sacrifice. How come it was a big story for the conservative whip who claims (big furore) and very little about Ed Balls. The man is just pure slime! And the annoying thing is he will get away with it.

Not a sheep said...

I wonder if the BBC will highlight Ed Balls' claim for Remembrance Day wreaths as they did with James Gray. Of course the two cases are completely different; one relates to a sleazy Tory MP who is easily attackable and one to a close friend of the Prime Minister who must be seen as beyond reproach.

javelin said...

So does DARLING - what the F*CK. He's the bloody chancellor. If he needs advice to fill in his tax form (a) what chance do the rest of us have (b) are his tax laws so complicated that the person who is responsible for taxation can't understand it himself.

This guy must rank as the most inept chancellor in history. Why couldn't he have even taken the time to UNDERSTAND his own taxes. He is a total fraud - he make the Wizard of Oz look competent. Aghhh. A bullet in the back of the head is too good for them.

PS. The iphone could be justified - as politics is multi-media/information oriented.

Anonymous said...

The more I read of this the more it seems as if M.P.'s banked their salary and every living cost was down to expenses,I would wager even their tax bills were scalped from expenses.My wife want's to know who paid for Brown's new teeth we think somehow it was covered by expenses and if it was when he's thrown out we want them back.

Chalcedon said...

Years ago I asked my accountant if his fee was tax deductable. "No" was the answer. Now this would have been me saving a little of MY OWN money. But these utter bastards charging their accountants fees to their expenses is disgusting! it's their personal tax liability. FFS!!!!! No wonder we are so angry. You think this rotten shower can't get any worse and then.....it does! Incredible.

Lady Finchley said...

This is just too vile especially as Ministers are paid a hefty salary on top of their MP's pay. And worse, they took it out of their IEP which is supposed to be used to pay for stationery, computers, postage and everything needed to run an office. I suppose it could have been worse - in the old days before it was 'ring-fenced', MPs used to take from the staffing allowance to top up other allowances. In one office I worked, it was impossible to get a raise because the MP used to take from the staffing allowance to pay for the website and maintenance - some 4 grand a year. The MP is question used to pay an exorbitant rent on the constituency office which used up most of the IEP.

The Telegraph might also like to look into MPs who use their staff for personal work and their second jobs or careers - there is plenty of that going on.

Plenty said...

Nothing is shocking now. It just sums up why politics is failing.

http://www.plenty2say.com

Madasafish said...

I will be happy if the public pay for their appeals when they are jailed for 10 years for fraud
:-)

VotR said...

iPhones are so cool. At least Jacqui's husband doesn't have to get his adult video's from Virgin media anymore.

Yup, there's an app for that too.

At the taxpayers expense, of course.

Looks like I will have to put up with my rinky-dinky Sagem until I can afford to buy an iPhone out of my own pocket. Do you think Jacqui would buy one for me if I asked nicely?

I'd love to be able to freeload off the taxpayer like her... Well, maybe not. Since I pay for things from my own money, my conscience is clear. Unlike hers...

And Harman's Fem Hitler training in the public eye: The PR company certainly got their money's worth didn't they? The phrase 'saw us coming' is one that applies to her situation. And 'The Empresses New Clothes' for how effective that training actually was.

It's all just so much more gravy from the trough, isn't it. ;)

Expenses should be completely scrapped. Housing schemes should be introduced for MPs attending London and very basic travelling allowances. And that's it. No money for luxuries, extras, anything else. The rest should come out of MPs wallets and purses. Just like everyone else has to suffer and endure.

Quentin said...

Having listened to a MEP speaking on R4 this dinnertime regarding his travel expenses, I have to conclude that our MP expenses scandal must pale into insignificance. When this MEP tried to claim back his first rail fare to Brussels they weren't interested in having the receipt.MEPs are paid a flat rate so despite his fare only costing 500 euros, they paid him 2000 euros.In fact, over a year he was paid 200,000 euros regardless of the fact that the actual cost was 50,000 euros.Although he could have kept the 150,000 euro difference, he donated it to charity. As he stated, you could become VERY rich being a MEP. Westminster MPs appear to be angels compared to their european counterparts.

Anonymous said...

my god,just seen an article saying camerons wealth stands at over thirty million.this will not look in a general election