We’re now recognised on Wickipedia – before you ask we didn’t write it! The entry has been revised a few times since it first popped up in January, today it reads:
Tax Hell is a UK website that helps people deal with their tax investigations. The website offers advice and sells eBooks relating to taxation. Wrong assumptions, false accusations and every other tool employed by HRMC are all claimed to be exposed on the website. Articles, eBooks, videos and others are available on the site.
Tax Hell was founded by Nick Morgan, an award-winning journalist with years of experience. In 2005, HRMC opened an investigation into his tax returns. He was questioned about £10 that he spent on a David Beckham biography for research purpose. He was subject to over five years of investigation. He recorded phone calls and interviews and carried out Freedom of information and Data Protection searches. After the investigation was concluded, he created Tax Hell to help others who might have to go through the same thing.
The HMRC / Beckhamgate saga mentioned in the Wikipeadia extract is a good example of how HMRC operate: Nick Morgan says,
“In the first interview I attended (22 November 2005) Enquiry Officer Steve Coomber asked about my job (I was working as a freelance journalist) and also a David Beckham book that I had claimed as an expense. He asked, ‘Did you do an article on David Beckham?’ I gave the following very full answer, ‘No, but I tried very hard to get an interview with him… I specifically went to the FA building in Soho Square and I waited outside for the manager and bought a small gift – a chocolate orange – and I gave that to him with a note in the hope in the hope of getting some sort of interview.’
“Despite giving this full answer (and showing newspaper cuttings to illustrate that I had a track record of interviewing celebrities) four months later (21 March 2006) HM Inspector of Taxes Jacqui Lamper was still unsatisfied, ‘Are there any documents to show that you purchased the David Beckham book in the belief that you would get to interview him? Otherwise there is nothing that shows that it was not purchased for your own enjoyment…’ She went on to say she was also concerned that I might have given the book to somebody as a gift or sold it on eBay.
“In the end it took nine months, two interviews and more time than I care to think about to come to a conclusion over this simple issue: claiming a £10 book as an expense.
“This bullish and petty approach was characteristic of the entire investigation.”