The Public Accounts Committee has spoken: the relationship between the Big 4 firms of accountants and HMRC is far too close and is a threat to the objectivity of UK tax policy.
I agree. Having been on a Treasury committee recently as an 'outsider' it was quite a shock to get so many mails from Big 4 firms who were supposedly the HMRC 'insiders' in the process. Those seconded don't even change their email addresses when undertaking government business, which also means that we now have the absurd position that government business takes place through the file servers of the Big 4.
This situation is wholly unacceptable - unless you're the Big 4, who the Guardian quote, and who seem entirely happy with the arrangement.
I have said time and again that it is wrong that HMRC is now chaired by someone whose career was as a KPMG tax partner, that a former PWC partner is also on the HMRC Board and that big business totally dominates the whole of the rest of its non executive direction. This is corporate capture of a regulator that is bound to erode confidence in its impartiality, at best, and actually be corrupting at worst. And when a large part of HMRC's policy is now not just driven by lobbying from big business, but is actually written by it by supposedly seconding staff into HMRC then that process of capture is almost complete.
The process undermines democracy.
It undermines the civil service.
It undermines HMRC.
And in the process it undermines the likelihood of our society surviving.
The Big 4 may be very relaxed about that. I am not. And nor should anyone in the 99% be so.
Margaret Hodge has done us all a service by highlighting the issue.