Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
WEDNESDAY 25 APRIL 2001
MONTAGU CB, MISS
CB, MR JOHN
YARD CBE, MR
140. Is that a yes or a no?
(Mr Montagu) It is that I have no evidence that there
is large scale fraud and evasion by large construction companies.
141. Are you targeting these people at all?
(Mr Montagu) We are targeting the construction industry
as a whole in the way that I have indicated.
142. Could I finally come back to the point
I made about whether you are willing to co-operate with people
in the industry? It is my impression that it has been indicated
by the Inland Revenue that you are not willing to co-operate with
UCATT to investigate these things. If you are, which is what I
think you said to me, then I will certainly go back to them and
say that, and I look forward to hearing in future how such co-operation
(Mr Montagu) Of course. As I have indicated, we are
always happy to work with any third parties who can give us indications
of areas where we need to take action to ensure compliance with
tax obligations. I would be very happy in those circumstances
to work with UCAT.
143. I had not had the chance to do the mental
arithmetic quite as quickly as Mr Williams while I was asking
my questions earlier, Mr Montagu, but it does seem to me that
you have now told us that just over 110,000 people are owed on
average, you believe, some £200 or thereabouts, and all you
are prepared to do is send them a single computer produced letter
to the last address which you know for them, which is likely to
be a 1997/98 address. That is three and a half years ago. My understanding
is that people move address on average every seven years, so something
like half of those people will probably have moved from the address
to which you are going to send them the letter. Do you not think
you ought to be doing something rather better than that to try
and make sure you contact all these people?
(Mr Montagu) We come back to the same point, Mr Rendel.
If we knew that these people had overpaid we would have repaid
them. We do not know who among these 1.04 million are the 13 per
cent, assuming our sampling is right, who have either paid us
too much or paid us too little. That is why I think that all we
can sensibly do is our best to contact the 1.04 million and give
them the opportunity, if they think they have paid, or indeed
underpaid, to tell us so and prove it.
144. If you were to send them a special delivery
letter so they have to sign if they have received it, you at least
then would have some idea about how many of those have not received
your letter and you could at least then contact their last employer.
(Mr Montagu) I also have to consider the balancing
cost against the point that you are making, that if I sent a recorded
delivery notice, and you believe that a lot of these people have
actually moved, again it is the same discussion I had with Mr
Williams. I have to balance value for money considerations here.
145. You have to do your best to make sure that
people who have overpaid tax get the tax back.
(Mr Montagu) Within reasonable constraints of value
Chairman: It simply remains for me to thank
you for coming and for a very interesting session.