Tax Officials Investigate 27 MPs

(Reuters) – TAX OFFICIALS ARE INVESTIGATING the financial affairs of 27 MPs amid a continuing row over excessive expense claims, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed on Friday.

The Daily Telegraph said in its Saturday edition that the inquiries had been launched over concerns that MPs who had abused the expenses system may also have broken tax laws.

The paper said that MPs who had claimed for non-essential items and services could face a tax bill of up to 40% on their value.

MPs could avoid paying tax on their expense claims only on the grounds they were ‘wholly, necessarily and exclusively’ linked to their parliamentary duties, the paper said.

News earlier this year that MPs had claimed thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to clean moats and swimming pools at their houses outraged voters who have had to tighten their belts during a severe recession.

An HMRC spokeswoman, confirming that 27 MPs were under investigation, said: ‘Inquiries are an integral part of HMRC’s work ensuring everyone pays the right tax.

‘An inquiry does not necessarily mean that there is a problem. Most inquiries are closed quickly,’ she said.

The expenses scandal resurfaced this week with a demand from independent reviewer Thomas Legg for further repayments for cleaning and gardening costs claimed at MPs’ second homes.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron have told their MPs to pay back what they owe or face the consequences.

Many MPs are angry that rules have been tightened retrospectively, with lower limits imposed on spending.

Brown himself said he was repaying more than £12,000 in cleaning, gardening and decorating bill claims.

Conservative MP David Wilshire became the latest victim of the expenses row on Thursday when he said he would step down at the general election next year.

Wilshire had referred himself to parliament’s sleaze watchdog after the Daily Telegraph reported that he had used expenses to pay £100,000 to a firm he owned.

… (Telegraph, 17/10/2009) – Twenty seven MPs investigated by tax authorities over expenses

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