Using Google’s corporate tax affairs to catapult your story into the media

 In HMRC Investigation, Tools

Interesting piece in The Express from earlier this week. It’s not interesting because it’s a story about HMRC flouting it’s own rules or even because it’s a story about blatant bullying. This is interesting because The Express have used the public interest in Google to make the story newsworthy.

The Express would not have considered this case newsworthy a year ago. “Where is the news interest to our readers?” They would argue, then explain, “If you are not being investigated by HMRC this means nothing to you plus there are technical aspects to it that are simply not sexy and anyway there’s no smoke without fire.”

Now – because of the public interest in Google’s corporate tax affairs – the story has a life; it’s not just the story of somebody being bullied by HMRC, it’s become a “one rule for us and one rule for them” story.

If you are trying to generate for media coverage just adding Google into your story in the same way it’s been done here could give it the ‘spin’ that’s needed to get it in the public eye.

Here’s the piece:

HMRC aims at mother of two while continuing ‘soft’ treatment of Google

HM Revenue & Customs has been accused of driving a mother of two to the brink of ruin with its demands, in contrast to the “soft” treatment received by multinationals like Google.

The taxman is pursuing “J”, the sole breadwinner in her household, for £15,000 in unpaid taxes on a redundancy payment that she received in 2009.At the time, J informed HMRC of her position and paid what she believed to be the correct amount of tax.

However, in August 2013, the taxman opened an inquiry into her tax affairs for 2009/10 and demanded full payment.J’s legal team say the taxman is unfairly pursuing her as under its own guidelines, it should have waived the money owed because of the length of time it took to find the error.

They also claim that HMRC says that it altered the rules in 2005, under which it is making the demands on her, only to change them back to their original form in 2013.The case is expected to be heard in the High Court in Birmingham in the summer and J, who is being assisted on a pro bono basis by Zenith Tax Solutions and her barristers, fears that she will be ruined if HMRC wins.

Although she could cope with paying the £15,000 demanded by HMRC, the legal costs will be too much.David Logan, a partner at Zenith, said it was a scandal that HMRC is “throwing the book” at J, given the treatment large corporations have received when issued with tax demands.

Full story in the Express here.


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