The leader of the biggest union in the UK and Ireland has dismissed an article in the Times today (Monday) as `tendentious and highly misleading’.
Len McCluskey said that the reality, not reflected by the Times, is that Unite is a new union, that the tax issues relate in the main to the years prior to the merger between the T&G and Amicus and, crucially, talks between Unite and the HMRC have reached agreement.
He said: “Today’s Times has carried a tendentious and highly misleading account of Unite’s VAT payments. It must be a matter of great public concern that confidential tax correspondence is now leaking from HMRC, doubtless on account of political pressure.
“On the substance of the allegations raised, the facts are far more complicated than presented by The Times. Regrettably, trade unions are treated less favourably in respect of VAT than commercial businesses. The immediate issue arose as a result of different policies followed by the two unions – the T&G and Amicus – which came together to form Unite in 2007. HMRC determinations as to our VAT liability have changed over the period since. We have reached agreement with HMRC as to our liability going forward, and are engaged in amicable discussions regarding outstanding payments which are likely to be concluded in the near future.
“Today’s report is a cynical attempt by the Tories to divert attention from the indulgent tax regime they offer to businesses and rich individuals, towards trade unions. Unite, like all trade unions, is a non-profit making organisation. We have no shareholders who benefit from our finances, all of which are devoted to supplying services and benefits to our membership of working men and women. Within that context, we have always paid such tax obligations as we have incurred in full. I regret that Margaret Hodge is quoted as commenting on the issue, without seeking to first ascertain the facts of the case.”
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