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Hot on the heels of the announcement of the privatisation of the Royal Mail, a Tory MP and chair of the All-Party Taxation Group yesterday called for the privatisation of HMRC. My dad, a tax inspector his whole working life, will be turning in his grave.

Ian Liddell-Grainger MP said on Radio 4 last night that the fact the HMRC has got to send out so many letters to sort out PAYE tax, shows that they are too big and doing too much, so they must be split up and the private sector could do it better. Now, he may have a point about the size of HMRC’s task – the fact that it was created out of a merger of the old Inland Revenue and the Customs & Excise – but they have had huge cuts in numbers of staff and local offices, as the PCS union have been complaining bitterly about for years now. But the idea that giving over tax collection to private profiteers could be a solution is appalling and positively medieval.

What we need instead is a serious re-prioritisation and investment in tax collection, to catch those evading tax, as well as closing all the tax havens and other loop holes enabling tax avoidance. PCS estimates that over £95 billion in tax each year is not collected. Plenty to sort out the deficit, and no need for ideological shrinking the state. Now why does a government of millionaires not think that is a better route I wonder?

BTW the Green Party conference has passed an emergency motion today opposing the proposed privatisation of the Royal Mail, and yesterday one against privatisation of the NHS


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