A GOVERNMENT tax adviser who resigned after being secretly filmed offering tips on keeping money “out of the Chancellor’s grubby mitts” was “directly at odds” with the Coalition’s position, a Treasury minister said today.
David Heaton spoke at a London conference, “101 ideas for personal tax planning”, two months before becoming a member of a panel advising HM Revenue and Customs on tackling artificial and aggressive tax avoidance.
He stepped down after he was recorded by BBC’s Panorama programme, as part of a joint investigation with Private Eye, outlining the advantages of tax planning, which he said included ways to keep the money from George Osborne’s “grubby mitts”.
Mr Osborne was reportedly told about the comments - to be broadcast by the BBC on Monday - before flying to a meeting of European finance ministers in Lithuania.
A source said the Chancellor had been “very annoyed” upon learning of Mr Heaton’s comments and “instructed tough action be taken”.
Mr Heaton initially denied doing anything wrong, but his resignation was announced yesterday, the BBC said.
He had also been filmed describing a maternity scheme he called the Bump Plan, and saying: “Ninety per cent of what you pay out ends up with the employee. You can’t really knock that one.”
He explained at the conference, in June, that by deliberately timing bonuses to enable an increased rebate on maternity pay, the tax paid on the bonus would effectively fall from 41.8% to just 8.4%, the BBC said.
David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) is designed to protect taxpayers. The role of the GAAR advisory panel is to make sure the GAAR is used where appropriate - that is to challenge the most artificial, contrived and aggressive behaviour.
“Mr Heaton’s statements are directly at odds with the Government’s approach to tackling tax avoidance. A member of the panel should not behave in a way that could undermine the GAAR and its effectiveness. Therefore, it is right that Mr Heaton resigned from his position.”