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An interesting conundrum here? Can you work it out?
The person in charge of the nation's taxation claims back the fee from taxation revenue in order to pay an accountant for completing his personal tax return.
Is it a benefit in kind would you say?
If accountants fees for preparing tax returns are tax-deductible then it's reasonable for him to do so. If not, then it's probably illegal for him to do so.
Of course what Darling should do is simplify the tax system and sweep away the entire concept of tax-deductible expenses at least in terms of personal income tax. The tax return should be no more than two sides of A4 so even a Labour chancellor could complete it in half an hour. The simplification would actually increase the tax take giving Darling some room for manoeuvre with thresholds and marginal rates, although this would now be just window-dressing given the now inevitable demise of the pound sterling as a respectable currency when (not if) the UK government starts rolling the printing presses to pay back its debts.
It does appear to be a taxable benefit because it is not covered by the wide exemption for MPs' expenses that they granted themselves in s292 ITEPA 2003. Under that section, little if any of the amounts they have scammed from us will be taxable. If they have stayed within the rules, the amounts they have received are exempt under s292, but if MPs have broken the rules, then they have stolen the money and the proceeds of theft are not taxable. Heads the MP wins, tails the taxpayer loses!
It is a good rule of thumb in tax to ask whether civil servants or MPs receive a particular perk, If they do, it's not taxable. If they don't, it is.
The proceeds of crime are not taxable, but they are recoverable. I hear the Taxpayer's Alliance is planning to launch private prosecutions for fraud and theft - Inspector Knacker could well be feeling collars ere long.
And Tony Blair will be called to account on the Honours for Cash disgrace.
But Tony had friends in high places, put there by him of course, and I wonder if Gordon or anyone else has such friends. It only needs one such to have his prosecution "fumbled" for them all to get away with it... at least, until they face their local selection committees.
This is the Teflon Parliament.