Thursday, February 16, 2012

An interesting question

How many of our top public servants are cheating on their taxes?

Its worth asking, because Freedom of Information Act requests in the UK have revealed exactly that:

The Department of Health has apologised after documents sent to the Guardian showed that contrary to assurances given to parliament, more than 25 senior staff employed by the department are paid salaries direct to limited companies, with the likely effect of reducing their tax bills.

In some cases, the documents show the named individuals are being paid more than £250,000 a year, as well as additional expenses.

The department claimed the 25 were not civil servants, or technically even staff, although a large number have been employed by the department for many years and hold very senior positions. It said the arrangements will be subject to review by the Treasury.

One Whitehall source said: "We cannot defend these arrangements, but it may be it is very common in Whitehall and this is just the tip of an iceberg."

It also seems that the Department in question misled their Minister about this, causing him to lie to Parliament.

This obviously isn't acceptable. The question is whether it is happening here. I've asked SSC today for information about this (including whether they have any guidance for the public service on the practice), and I'm looking forward to their answer. But in order to gain reassurance, I'll need to OIA every single public service department.