Stay in touch!
Sign up to be updated with Evolve's latest stories, and for opportunities to get involved.
HMRC have made the astonishing decision to write-off at least £30,000 worth of unpaid Council Tax for the Prime Minister’s Senior Advisor, Dominic Cummings.
An investigation conducted by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) – an official executive agency of HMRC employing more than 3,600 staff – found that Cummings and his father had failed to pay any Council Tax for 18 years on two properties which were built in breach of planning laws on the family’s North East farm.
However, rather than demand they pay the sum back, the VOA simply decided to waive the unpaid tax.
Durham County Council are thought to have lost out on in the region of £30,000 to £50,000 as a result of the decision.
Despite breaching planning laws in the construction of the two properties, the PM’s Senior Advisor and his father have instead been allowed to start paying Council Tax on the buildings from the start of this month.
The revelation that Cummings had avoided Council Tax on the properties was initially discovered by Evolve Politics contributor Alex Tiffin.
John Shuttleworth, an Independent Councillor in Durham County, was flabbergasted by the decision, telling the Northern Echo that it was yet enother example of the elite being allowed to play by a different set of rules to ordinary people:
“They should have informed them (the authorities) and it should have been checked.
“If it was anybody else, they would be getting charged and it would be backdated, or they would be getting taken to court.
“It just proves there is two sets of rules, one for them and another for everyone else. It is not right.
“We have to abide by the law and it we don’t you get put in prison or you get fined. They are just above it.”
Confirming HMRC’s decision, the Corporate Director of Resources at Durham County Council, John Hewitt, said:
“I can confirm that the Valuation Office Agency have concluded their inspection and provided us with details of the required changes to the valuation list in respect of North Lodge, where the current single assessment will be replaced with three entries in the rating list going forward.”
“These changes will be implemented with effect from October 4, 2020, which is the date we have been instructed to apply the changes from.”
“The date from which the rating list is to be amended is a matter for the Valuation Office Agency.”
“We are instructed that they have made their assessment in line with the relevant legislation and custom and practice in terms of such changes in accordance with Article 3 of the Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order 1993.”
Dominic Cummings is listed alongside his father as one of the owners of the property, which they built together in 2002.
The PM’s senior advisor shot to prominence after ignoring lockdown rules and travelling from London to Durham whilst he and his wife were experiencing Coronavirus symptoms in April.
After fierce public uproar, Cummings held an unprecedented press conference in an attempt to explain himself – but only ended up incriminating himself further after making several unbelievable excuses, including infamously claiming that he had only driven whilst symptomatic to ‘test his eyesight’.
It is unlikely that being allowed to escape a £30,000 unpaid tax bill will improve Mr Cummings’s reputation with the general public.
[This article has been amended to reflect the fact that it was not Durham County Council’s ultimate decision to write-off the unpaid Council Tax. but the Valuation Office Agency – an official arm of HMRC.]