back to article HMRC pays criminal for 'tax dodger' discs

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is paying a German crook a reward for allegedly stolen information about bank accounts in Liechtenstein. The information is believed to relate to 100 people who between them owe the UK tax authorities more than £100m. The tiny princedom is much loved by tax dodgers for its refusal to sign …

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Well done HMRC

...am so sick of whingers who say you can't pay an informant to solve a crime.

If it's so important to these people to live in a country which observes bizarre and inappropriate levels of formality in all circumstances, then they should pay the extra unclaimed tax for the rest of us. Oh, and they can move to their own little borough where the police write nice formal letters to all criminals saying "Dear Sir, did you do it?" Then nobody will laugh at these oddballs when they shower in clerical robes and go to bed in their suits. I'm sorry, have I impugned their dignity with such unadorned use of the third person plural?

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Coat

Undersold

This guy could have made a lot more money by blackmailing the people on the list. This is a very silly move, both for the seller and the buyer.

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Coat

do not post them!!!

what if these disks get lost??

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LPF

Hope for that infromant

That his or her name never gets out into the open, as there are going to be a lot of rich people, looking to hire someone to put a bullet in said informant.

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Flame

So what next,

Many claim this guy is a whistleblower, he's actually a convicted thief. So earning £100k surely would, at least morally, conflict with the proceeds of crime act

Now i'm wondering when the benefits cd's will appear for auction. Get permission to download the entire data set so if anybody is watching it wont raise alarms, then post it to a somewhere and sit on the data for a while. Stealing data should no longer be classed as a crime in this country, at least the government should shut up about tracking isps

Also who decided that our laws were the correct tax laws rather than Liechtenstein's? I did like the comment from them that they treat people like adults and rather than keep asking them if they are sure they paid the right amount of tax they leave people to manage their own affairs. Well that wont happen here especially when Gordon 'Property is Theft' Brown is pretending to be in charge

doesnt it open the uk up for foreign powers to act within their laws on our soil? maybe a few more polonium poisonings

oh and before the mandatory 'you must be a tax evader' comment, i'm not, i'm just very against paying people to steal anything, whether you believe its for the greater good itself is irrelevant.

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Pirate

They need the cash

The relationship between the taxpayer and the Inland Revenue (as was) has changed over the last ten years. They are instructed by their political masters to accrue as much as possible by fair means or foul so as to pay for the massive overspending that this government has committed us to.

We're off to hell in a handcart.........

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All up front?

Hmm, surely it should be - 10% now and the rest when we see the goods. Isn't this how the criminal underworld operates? HMRC is good for the money. He could come round with some heavies and break their legs if they don't pony up. Show HMRC pictures of Gordon and tell them they know where he lives.

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OK

Let's see this "evidence" stand up in court.

When HMRC itself acts like a criminal it makes the tax look like a racket. Soon people will feel it's immoral to pay the tax to this thieving Govt.

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Excellent

Law is for everyone, not only for those too poor to effectively avoid it. Give those millionaires some quality time behind bars as well!

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Ash
Pirate

RIAA, MPAA; false advertising

Piracy doesn't fund organised crime, HM Revenue and Customs does.

Openly.

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well...

"Heinrich Kieber, a 42-year-old former employee, stole data ... (from) ... LGT Treuhand AG..."

and is now believed to be in Australia

from the Wall Street Journal

(there was some comment on Radio France that the BND german secret police might have brought Heinrich under a witness protection program)

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An economy built on tax fraud and dentures

is all I know about Liechtenstein.

On second thoughts, does Liechtenstein actually exist? Has anyone ever been there? Has anyone ever met a Liechtensteinian? Real country or a cartographic rounding error?

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Germans Ripped Off?

The Germans should be feeling "stitched up". They paid £3m for 750 names. that's £4,000 per head.

HMRC pays £100k for 100 names. That's £1,000 per head.

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Gates Halo

lol

Oh well lucky I dont bank there lol

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Funding Criminal Activites

OK, so lets take a look at this:

Criminal Has data that HMRC want

HMRC Fund criminal in exchange for data

All UK Tax Payers fund HMRC

does this mean that every tax payer in the UK is indirectly funding criminal activities?

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Paris Hilton

On the one hand, and on the other.

I admire the HMRC - set a thief to catch a thief - but at what point does it all become rather oppressive. I'm not sure they could buy the info from a Brit and then use it in a UK Court. Will HMRC tell the German Authorities who they have paid and how much - just to keep it all square? Or will it be paid into a numbered Swiss Bank Account?

Is PH in the list?

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Alert

Hmmm...

Let me see if I've got the facts right, here:

Thieving bastards (incompetent government sponsored department with a track record for giving no attention to identity, privacy and data protection; who constantly change and bend tax laws); Pay another Thieving Bastard to steal private identity and financial data; from banks in a country that DOES protects the rights and privacy of other alleged Thieving Bastards?

Hmmm... As things stand, I feel a little more support toward the "alleged" Thieving Bastards and opposed to the proven Thieving bastards.

I wonder if Lichtenstein will be able to sue the UK government for breach of Data Privacy, Data Theft and funding criminals.

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Data Protection

ok, so if they are exempt from the DP act, what about a charge of receiving stolen goods?

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Law is for everyone.........

Regarding Gerrit's statement above

"Law is for everyone, not only for those too poor to effectively avoid it. Give those millionaires some quality time behind bars as well!"

Am I missing something or is this not the whole point....... HMRC should be obeying the law as well and not encouraging people to break the law in order for them to enforce it....

I am sure if an employee of HMRC was selling 2 discs full of data to another government then HMRC would not be happy about it ;)

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Re: Funding Criminal Activities

Last time I checked it was our money paying for the Iraq war...

It's just another highly hypocritical national stance. If someone stole details from one of our banks and sold it to a foreign power what do you think our government would say? But apparently it's ok if they're a) smaller than us, b) it gets us some money. Nice.

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Boffin

Dearth of an expert witness?

Where is the legally usable proof that will stand up in court?

Regardless of where the records came from or how legally they were obtained or even if they are accurate; doesn't the case depend on co-operation with the bank itself?

Everything else is third party opinion or hearsay isn't it? The tax authorities still have to go cap in hand to the dodgers to see if they can bottle the charges.

Of course, if it supplies names and details, they can use work-arounds such as: Where did you get this and that? and: How did you pay for those? or: Where have these gone? etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OK

Re: "When HMRC itself acts like a criminal it makes tax look like a racket."

Tax is a racket - it's a good old fashioned protection racket, pure and simple. Try not paying and see what happens to you.

As the chancellor once said: "Don't worries - you pay on time, we'll make sure you can operate. Don't pay though - well, we'll take your business, we'll take your house and you won't see you family for three to five years. Capiche?"

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Stop

They don't need proof - just a suspicion

... and they can freeze your assets and shut you down.

We *do* live in a police state - they just don't bother most of the time...

There also used to be a tradition where they would give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes - now they get paid by results - I suspect there are a lot of people who shouldn't have paid them who did so to get them off their backs.

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A feel a Perl script coming on

I'm sure I could produce a list of names that I can sell to HMRC on false pretences. If they pay up front, and especially if they can't rely on the bank's co-operation, they should be an easy mark.

Well, at least they're showing a tough approach to medium sized tax evaders. Big ones are still fine though.

Of course, it's not news that tax money funds organised crime. Just because we call the biggest organised crime family in any given location the "Government" doesn't change their underlying nature; they extract money and enforce arbitrary rules with threats (nice liberty you have there, would be a shame if anything was to happen to it), primarily to maintain their own dominant position.

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tax is not criminal

tax is what you pay to run the schools, build the roads, collect your garbage, and arrest real criminals amoungst others. What do you think life would be without all of that?

Pay taxes, buy civilisation!

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Flame

Cue awful music...

You Wouldn't Buy A Stolen Car.

You Wouldn't Buy A Stolen Handbag.

You Wouldn't Buy A Stolen Television.

You Woudln't Buy A Stolen set of bank details.

BANK DETAIL

THEFT

IS A CRIME

-----------

Weird how when you swap out what a lot of the populace is doing (for no money) with something the government's doing- and spending our money (that we'll never see again) to make money (that'll go to the HMRC coffers) from- that it suddenly becomes "A Good Thing" rather than " A Crime". Personally, I don't mind too much if people avoid the system that much; the people who do are the people who don't use the NHS, have private security (or at least a baseball bat and a good lawyer), and so on. So they're probably less of a burden on the taxpayer than a lot of the actual tax-leeches going about today.

And paying a criminal to give stolen evidence that they're then going to take to court... are there no lengths the HMRC won't stoop to?! Okay, the principle is sound- pay small amount of money, get details, tax criminals to sharing-cell-with-BubbaTheBuggerer levels, etc. But they still shouldn't be paying criminals.

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Black Helicopters

unusable information

If the bank will not confirm the records are true and they are unable to trace transfers in and out of UK banks to the Liechtenstein bank then how are they going to use the data? There is no chain of evidence or custody so the HMRC might as well say ... Mr Smith a guy in a pub told me you have not been paying your fair share of taxes.... If your names on the list just keep your mouth shut and ask for a lawyer.

In the States they would have to produce the source of the disks in court and I am sure that Liechtenstein would promptly request he be handed over to them for prosecution

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Coat

I think it's called "Taking it to an illogical conclusion"

BBC News headline, tomorrow:

MoD pays Al Quaeda £100,000,000 for "Defensive money".

The head of the MoD explained the arrangement at a press conference in Paris: "Protection money? Who said protection money? No, it's "Defensive Money". Totally different! We pay them to ensure that there are no terrorist attacks on the UK."

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Unhappy

Left out to dry...

Not all plain sailing for the informant, this was in the Sunday Times. The guy wanted to be covered under the FBI witness protection program but was refused.

He was given a couple of passports instead.. so its pretty likely that when the crims catch up with him he is going to get his lot.

Reckon they could have helped him out some more, considering the perks arms dealers get :s

Funny old world..........

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Are they still there?

Presumably LGT Treuhand AG will have informed their customers affected, when they discovered the data loss. And it seems likely that said customers will have changed/close/moved their accounts for security reasons shortly thereafter.

I don't suppose they thought that the perp after their bank accounts would be HMRC, but the effect is the same don't you think?

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Flame

Extraordinary bunch of whiners

Some people are astonishing. They live in the UK, they expect the roads to be maintained, street lights to be lit & rubbish to be collected, they send their kids to our schools, benefit from our health service and fire brigade, are protected by our police & armed forces - and they object to being asked to pay their fair share. Perhaps they should move to, say mongolia, where the tax rate is much lower because you don't have any of that stuff.

And as for paying informants - heck thats been going on since the dawn of time. It's disingenuous to act all outraged.

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Alert

Dodgy

There are a LOT of problems with this case:

1) HMRC is buying STOLEN property

2) HMRC is breaking the law in a foreign country

3) HMRC is paying money to a CRIMINAL THIEF

4) The THIEF has left himself exposed to the authorities in a number of countries

5) The tax dodgers are evading tax

6) The articles are unlikely to hold up in a UK court

7) One rule for us, and another for someone else.

When will people wake up to the fact that people with money and power play their own game of LAW and ORDER.

There is no FAIR and JUST, just who has the biggest wallet and most influence.

We see this time and time again, albeit in Labour, the Conservatives and even Lib Dem Policy...its all completel bull**** - don't get me wrong I'm no eco warrior, nor a animal rights protestor type.

Life isn't fair, thats great for some, not great for others.

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The real problem (and a solution)

The real problem here is the existence of such tax-havens. These should be squashed as the parasites they are, feeding on tax-evasion (and money laundering for more sinister purposes) . A (plausible threat of) a trade embargo including, in particular, all financial transactions should do it nicely.

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Anonymous Coward

Arrest him and get your money back

So arrest him when he steps back into Europe and get your money back. It doesn't matter that you signed a contract with him, it's not enforcible I reckon.

If his money is in European banks, then can't it simply be seized again? Otherwise via foreign lawsuits.

Liechtenstein should also pursue a private case for handling stolen goods again him in whatever country he is in, and get compensation from him.

As it stands they just crossed a barrier there, paying for stolen goods, how long before they're commissioning the stealing, then dealing with more serious criminals, killers, etc. just to get information. It leaves HMRCs hands dirty here.

And what do we do if other countries start extra-judicial attacks on us? What then? A stolen secret here or there, a dead Brit or two to get some information? What do we do then, when we've accepted the principle ourselves?

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sick and tired of the middle class having to subsidize the wealthy

I'm glad to see somebody's government doing what it can to crack down on wealthy tax cheats.

I'm sick and tired of the middle class having to subsidize the wealthy.

As for criminal laws being broken, the data was obtained in Lichtenstein, I doubt the UK has a data protection treaty with Lichtenstein, the data isn't copyright, it isn't patented (its data), so what criminal law? Maybe just a violation of regulations of some sort.

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Tax

These 100 'names' can basically go and fuck themselfs, tax evasion/avoidance isn't in any way a nice or clever thing to do (@Chad, I'm with you on this one). I'd be all for turning round the "no taxation without representation" to mean that people who don't pay tax don't get to use other's tax money, the trouble is they all tend to be very rich so it might not be a goer...

As for the revenue - people shouldn't forget that they sold off all their buildings (that is OUR buildings) to a PPP outfit (Mapley UK IIRC) who are based in a fucking tax haven.

Anyway, I'm gonig to get off my horse, because I'm getting vertigo from the height of it...

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Coat

Brief rant

Presumably, this evidence wouldnt be valid in court anyway?

Note that banks regularly give up info to the relevant authorities at the drop of a hat e.g. if special branch asks for it then it gets it! The paper work is minimal. So Gordon - and the rest of the vampire club (bleeding us dry) - is used to having the easy life here where they just do anything they want with no fear of repercussions. They were probably a bit miffed at having to actually pay for something.

Note also that HMRC/Customs&Excise pull a few fast ones particularly re:property to avoid paying tax. As far as I am concerned, selling Customs property off via offshore company to avoid paying tax is just as bad as people using Liechtenstein accounts. Check out Mapeley....

£100million? Gordon and his cronies spend that each week on spin lessons.

Am getting far too cynical in my old age...will get my coat...

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Boffin

Would they pay Black Hats to break in and get the same info?

Sounds a bit unusual... paying for illegally (?) obtained information.

If some Black Hat's (hackers) offered the same kind of information, i.e. another 100 million pounds of tax evaders, would they pay them to break into Liechtenstein banks?

"Of course not" doesn't sound like the answer in reality here.

Doesn't sound like good leadership involved.

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Gates Horns

ironic

HMRC loses data and everyone worries that someone will buy it.

Meanwhile a bank in Lichtenstein loses data, and everyone's happy that HMRC bought it.

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We want what is ours....

@MarkMac

People aren't astonishing at all, they are stupid, they don't realise that the government don't have money, they merely invest and redistribute the money from their people (us), what have the Romans ever done for us?

If, and "if" is the word here, if there are people that are evading tax which should be paid to support the UK then it is reasonable to try to obtain it, as Lichtenstein refuse to aid the UK in this then it's not unreasonable to steal it, do two wrongs make a right? well, if I and other UK tax payers have to pay more than our fair share because of these criminals then damn straight it's right.

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Sid

@MarkMac

Some people are astonishing, they don't read the comments before whinging about everybody whinging :)

I haven't read anything about anyone objecting to paying for road repairs, street lighting, NHS etc...

But is it whinging, when they see money spent on unnecessary War? or the Million or so pounds spent on the Super Casino, thats now wasted? or all the money being spent on unnecessary ID Cards etc...?

I think the crux of this story is what has already been mentioned, that the Government are now prepared to pay criminals a lot of money to get information, this is a bad precedent, where will this end? Paying Kids to grass their parents up?

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DR
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@AC

"Also who decided that our laws were the correct tax laws rather than Liechtenstein's?"

our government decided our tax laws were right and correct, Lichensteins government decided that theirs were correct.

those who want to live by the law of Lichenstien should go live in Lichenstein,

those who choose to live in the UK should obey the UK laws, even when it costs them money.

I don't fully agree with paying criminals for money, but paying one crooks to catch a hundred doesn't seem all that bad. (of course it is really)

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Pirate

No safe place...

> It should now be clear to everyone that there is no safe hiding place for the proceeds of tax evasion.

And what about a "safe hiding place" for all the DNA and ID and Registration Number and so on data that our Government wants to collect from us?

I wonder how much some lowly clerk on the UK's National Identity Database would have to be paid to copy it all off onto a few CDs and bung it over to another interested party...?!

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Stop

Not valid? Why not?

Why do people think that this wouldn't stand up in a UK court? Because they don't like the idea? The police have been paying informants since the police force began, and their info has been used in many court cases. It rather depends on what the data is, not how it was obtained. Anyone here know what the information is? Thought not. For all anyone here knows it's the full evidence chain for every one of these tax-dodging parasites.

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To those who whine about wealthy not paying their fair share of tax

Tax evasion becomes really endemic when the the tax regime becomes too oppressive, convoluted, biased and/or unstable. Our current tax regime meets all of the above definitions, so expect evasion to become more and more prolific.

Please note that "tightening the screws" is maybe OK from the populist point of view but there is no such thing as a free lunch - you upset the situation and the country as a whole will pay for it. How? By pushing capital, business, professionals away - you will end up collecting even less tax.

Also remember that the recent HMRC tax scramble is the direct result of the decade of economic mismanagement and wastage perpetrated by NuLabour Govt. They are running out of cash and are desperate to get it from somewhere, disregarding the consequences. So if you think it's only the rich who are affected - think again.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a lead, not evidence

It's irrelevant whether the stolen disc could be used as evidence in court because a disc with names on it doesn't prove anything anyway. Obviously the people named will have to be investigated at great length and that investigation will, perhaps, produce evidence. The disc doesn't even need to be mentioned in court.

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Anonymous Coward

@Anonymous Coward

"Tax is a racket - it's a good old fashioned protection racket, pure and simple. Try not paying and see what happens to you."

By that logic, everything is a racket. "Listen, see? You like this phone service you got? It's pretty nice phone service. You know... it'd be a shame if something happened to it. A real cryin' shame, you know?"

Or, on approaching the cash register at the supermarket, "Those are some nice veggies you got there... Yeah, nice and fresh. You wouldn't... you wouldn't want to just walk out of here with those veggies, would you? Something could happen. You could fall down in the street. Maybe you should come over here..."

Jackass.

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Re: Brief Rant

"Presumably, this evidence wouldnt be valid in court anyway?"

They probably wouldn't use it in court. What it does give them is a list of names to start investigating.

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@Chad

Correct. This is the generally accepted understanding of why we pay taxes. However, thanks to our beloved leader, Gordon (Greed is Good) Brown, there is a special category of people who are exempt from these obligations to contribute to the social infrastructure of the country. To qualify for this exemption you must be a non-domiciled billionaire whose very presence on our soil is somehow supposed to transform our whole economy. Gordon likes to refer to this as trickle-down economics but for most people it just feels like we are being pissed on. No change there, then.

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Anonymous Coward

non-doms

Apparently --

> there is a special category of people who are exempt

> from these obligations to contribute to the social infrastructure

> of the country

Being a non-dom doesn't mean you pay no UK tax. You pay tax on money earned in the UK, and on earnings remitted to the UK. A non-dom just doesn't pay tax on money earned overseas that stay overseas.

Any random person, regardless of earnings, who works in the UK but is domiciled overseas is a non dom. If they have (eg) a bank a/c earning interest in their home country, they are not liable for tax on the interest unless that interest is remitted to the UK. But if they work for McD's on Croydon, they'll be paying PAYE tax. If they have a UK bank a/c, they'll pay tax on that (UK) interest.

Why _should_ they pay tax on money which has no relevance to the UK at all?

The vast majority of non-doms are most likely not billionaires; and let's face it, billionaires can just hire someone clever to find some other way of paying (almost) no tax.

But that Italian guy working ffor a few years in the UK with some savings back in Italy, savings he wants to use when he returns to die/ marry/ settle down/ whatever? You'll get him, for sure. But it won't provide $MILLIONS for the Treasury. You just made the Italian's tax filing much more complicated, and given some HMRC monkey more paperwork to check, that's all.

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