The Simple Revolution

by Pedro
11 April 2016

Climate change and my tax return

Some time ago, I heard a talk explaining that we don't need legislation to prevent climate change, as there is already plenty of legislation in place, which should protect us from climate change. We just need to use it.

At the time, I was excited, but felt powerless to take the world on with a case that would probably be laughed out of court (note that this did not happen to Urgenda with their successful case against the Dutch government). One day it occurred to me that, through a little known piece of legislation in the Serious Crime Act 2007, it would be illegal to pay taxes or even to file a tax return.

As I had recently become a director of a company, but didn't earn enough to pay income tax, this seemed a great opportunity to test out these laws. I have found the correspondence from HM Revenue & Customs to be hilarious at times. Originally, I published everything, but as this has been going for so long, here is an abbreviated version for your entertainment:

27 January 2014

Pedro - "it would be illegal to pay taxes"

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to inform you that I will not be filing my tax return. To pay any taxes would be illegal under Sections 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

Section 46 of the Act states that:

A person commits an offence if-
  • (a) he does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of one or more of a number of offences; and
  • (b) he believes-
    • (i) that one or more of those offences will be committed (but has no belief as to which); and
    • (ii) that his act will encourage or assist the commission of one or more of them.

As I believe that multiple offences will be committed using the taxes raised, it is my duty not to fund this activity.

Failure to meet [2°C] targets will:

  • Be in contravention of the 2009 Copenhagen Accords.
  • Cause widespread extinction of species, including many protected species. [2][3][9][11]
  • Cause widespread destruction of habitat, including Sites of Special Scientific Interest. [3][4][5][9][10]
  • Cause loss of human life, through drought, flooding, extreme weather, landslides, loss of drinking water, reduction in crop yields, overheating and other factors. [3][4][5][9]
  • Cause destruction of property through rising sea levels, flooding, landslides and other factors. [3][9]
  • Cause loss of employment through acidification of the oceans, extinction of species, destruction of farm land and other factors. [2][3][7][8][9]

Clearly these activities are illegal under various laws, including but not restricted to:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter,
  • Articles 1 and 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and European Convention on Human Rights,
  • Section 4 of the Climate Change Act 2007,
  • Sections 9, 13, 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981,
  • Negligence,
  • Section 1 of the Trustee Act 2000.

See full letter

20 February 2014

HMRC - "did we send you a tax return by mistake?"

I am sorry to learn of the difficulties that you have experienced in your dealings with us. I understand the main reason for you complaint is that you have received a tax return from us. You have stated that you do not intend to complete this; I note the reasons you have given.

I have looked at your tax records and cannot trace a Self Assessment (SA) record under your name and National Insurance number at any of the previous addresses we hold for you. Without a SA record we could not have issued a SA return to you. If you have received a SA return under a temporary National Insurance number please let me know the temporary National Insurance number and Unique Tax Reference on the SA return.

See full letter

15 March 2014

Pedro - "I'm a director, but paying taxes would be illegal"

I recently became a director of a company. I am therefore legally required to file a tax return. I did not receive a Self Assessment form; this is the first time I have been required to file a return. Previously, I paid taxes through my employers.

As I explained in my previous letter, I believe that taxes I pay will fund activities which contribute to climate change. Climate change will cause loss of life, damage to property, affect human rights and harm nature. This is illegal. Assisting and encouraging these activities, by funding them, is also illegal.

This leaves me in a difficult position, as complying with tax law will cause me to break various other serious laws. Additionally, I do not wish to contribute to this abhorrent destruction.

See full letter

7 April 2014

HMRC - "I'm just doing my job"

I note your concerns over climate change however, I am unable to comment on this. Our job is to administer taxation and to deal with any complaints concerning this.

See full letter

28 October 2014

Pedro - "Please pass on to someone who can make comment"

I cannot understand why your job description prevents you commenting on climate change. Perhaps you should consider your own legal and moral position if your organisation is preventing you from commenting on its unlawful activities.

If you are unable to comment on my legal concerns, then I am still unable to file my tax return. Could you please forward all of my correspondence to a department who are able to comment on my concerns relating to the legality of taxation for illegal purposes?

See full letter

28 November 2014

HMRC - "It's the government's fault..."

HMRC administers the tax system on behalf of the Government of the day. We do not however set Government policies on how the taxes we collect are spent.

See full letter

27 January 2015

Pedro - "Assisting the government is illegal too"

Whilst you do not set the government policy, Section 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 states that it is an offence to "do an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of one or more of a number of offences." Collecting taxes for the government will clearly assist the commission of the government’s activities causing climate change and the various offences outlined in my previous letters.

See full letter

28 February 2015

HMRC - "We're fining you"

I must inform you that becaúse the 2013-14 return is still outstanding a late filing penalty of £100 has been charged to the Self-Assessment account set up for you and a statement will be issued to you shortly. Further charges and interest may also arise later if any further tax is due.

See full letter

19 March 2015

Pedro - "Please address my concerns"

I was disappointed to learn that you wish to fine me for not submitting my 2013/2014 Self-Assessment. If anything, surely I should be fining HM Revenue & Customs for failing to address any of my legal concerns, despite four letters describing my concerns over the course of a year?

In my initial letter, dated 27 January 2014, I asked whether HMRC wished to dispute any of my legal concerns. These concerns have not yet been disputed. To date, the only defence presented has been that the offences are committed by the government; HMRC is merely funding the offences.

In my second letter (HMRC/02, 15 March 2014), I once again requested a response to my concerns.

In my third letter (HMRC/03, 28 October 2014), I asked for my correspondence to be forwarded to a department able to comment on my concerns relating the legality of taxation for illegal purposes. If this was carried out, the department in question has failed to comment on my concerns.

In my fourth letter (HMRC/04, 27 January 2015), I explained that the funding of offences is an offence in itself.

HMRC have failed to either acknowledge or dispute any of my concerns.

Please cancel the penalty and forward my correspondence to a department who are able to respond to the following questions:

  • Do you dispute my concerns regarding climate change?
  • What action is being taken to address these concerns?
  • Do you believe that the offence of failing to file a tax return is more serious than those of encouraging and assisting manslaughter or human rights offences?

I hope that from here we can begin a more constructive dialogue.

See full letter

15 April 2015

HMRC - "Withholding your income details by not submitting your tax return will not address these matters in the manner you wish"

I am unable to make any comment with regards to how the democratically elected Government of thé time allocates monies.

I understand you have the right to thínk Government spending should be more sympathetic to society and the world in general. Specifically with regards to CO2 emissions, human rights and eliminating illegal activities.

However withholding your income details by not submitting your tax return will not address these matters in the manner you wish.

I am sorry you are disappointed that failure to submit your Self Assessment tax return will incur penalties.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has the responsibility to collect taxes that are due. You will need to contaxt the individual government departments who have responsibility for the subjects that concern you. You will find these listed on the governments we site.

I hope you feel I have answered all the points you have raised but if you have new information that you would like me to consider please provide this as soon as possible. You can either send this to me at the address shown at the top of this letter or phone me on the number above.

See full letter

HMRC accounts - "This is a serious matter"

Your continuing failure to file this tax return and any earlier years' tax returns is a serious matter. We are treating this as a priority because our records indicate you may owe a significant amount of tax this year.

If you ignore this letter you will incur further penalties, up to a total of £1.600. We can also estimate what tax might be due if you had file this return. Filing you tax return online now will ensure you pay the right amount of tax and prevent further penalties.

See full letter

15 May 2015

Pedro - "Can someone answer my questions?"

I note that you are unable to comment on Government allocation of monies. Are you able to pass my correspondence on to someone who is able to comment on illegal use of the money passed on to the Government by HMRC? Are you able to answer any of my questions? Or perhaps give me the address of someone who might be better qualified to address my concerns?

I also note that the Government were democratically elected. However, this does not place the Government above the law. Members of Parliament may sometimes feel that they are not subject to the laws of this country, but I can assure you that this is not the case and often they do find this out for themselves.

I appreciate your understanding of my concerns regarding the impact of Government spending on society and the world. My concerns about the morality of the Government’s spending are not the reason for failing to file my tax return.

As I have explained previously, I am unable to file my tax return or to pay taxes under English law, as doing so would be illegal.

Further, my legal advice indicates that this offence is more severe than the offence of failing to file a tax return. If your legal department believes this is not the case, I should be grateful if they would refer me to the relevant cases.

By funding these activities, HMRC is also assisting these offences. HMRC’s failure to refute or even comment on these allegations suggests that HMRC are for some reason unwilling to address this illegal activity. I do however fully understand that you may not be able to comment on these allegations if a legal investigation is already taking place.

Please note that I do not accept the penalty, as none of my questions have been answered to date. My questions were raised well before the online deadline and I have received no evidence from HMRC that it would be legal for me either to file my tax return or to pay taxes.

See full letter

28 May 2015

Pedro (To HMRC Accounts) - "Demanding penalties from me is an offence"

I note that failure to file a tax return is a serious matter. Whilst I would like to deal with this matter promptly, the impacts of climate change are a far more serious matter and, until we have resolved the issues relating to climate change, I am unable to.

Demanding penalties will encourage me to commit the offence of paying taxes to fund illegal activities; this is an offence under Section 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

If I do not receive an adequate response to my concerns and questions, you may incur a penalty to compensate for:

  • Lost earnings through the impact of climate change on my livelihood (e.g. impact on food yields, damage to valuable trees)
  • Damage to the commons, held in trust by the Government
  • Excessive time spent corresponding with HMRC
  • Legal costs

I would like to take this opportunity to correct an error in my last letter (HMRC/06, 15 May). I said “I also note that the Government were democratically elected.” This is no longer true. 63% of the electorate voted against the Conservatives and only 25% of the electorate voted for them. Many of the electorate did not vote because they felt that their vote would be wasted in an unfair electoral system. Many others voted tactically in an attempt to avoid wasting their vote. 56.3% of the votes were “wasted”, i.e. they were not counted towards the composition of the parliament. This is not democratic.

Please note that I do not accept the penalty, as none of my questions have been answered to date. My questions were raised well before the online deadline and I have received no evidence from HMRC that it would be legal for me either to file my tax return or to pay taxes.

See full letter

30 June 2015

HMRC - "You must file even if it is illegal"

Your belief that paying income tax would be illegal is also noted but such a belief does not absolve you of your legal obligation to comply with legislation as it currently stands. The most appropriate way to voice all your concerns would be via your local MP.

See full letter

3 August 2015

Pedro - "Tax law doesn't overrule manslaughter"

I also note that you believe that the Taxes Management Act 1970 overrules the Serious Crime Act 2007. Again, this is not the case. Under English law, when two statutes are in conflict, the latest in time prevails. Additionally, more serious offences overrule lesser offences.

See full letter

14 September 2015

HMRC - "We have nothing to say"

As a UK resident you are required to pay tax on any taxable UK income received. The points you have raised do not affect your obligation to comply with UK tax legislation. We have nothing more to add to what we have already told you.

See full letter

12 January 2016

Pedro - "You have failed to give any explanation"

You stated that the points I have raised do not affect my obligation to comply with UK tax legislation. However, you have failed to give any explanation as to why this would be the case.

It is clear that you are not willing to address my legal concerns and your correspondence will be used in court as evidence against you.

See full letter

12 January 2016

Pedro (To the Adjudicator's Office) - "HMRCs response has been completely inappropriate"

I am writing to you because I am unable to file my tax return and the response of HM Revenue & Customs to date has been completely inappropriate.

As I have repeatedly explained in nine letters over the course of two years, the revenues collected by HMRC are funding climate change, which is illegal for many reasons (see Urgenda vs. Netherlands and Oslo Principles of Climate Change Principles). By participating in this funding, HMRC are breaking the law (see Section 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007). Filing my tax return would be encouraging these offences and is therefore also illegal.

There are three appropriate responses to these allegations. The first would be to demonstrate that the allegations are false. The second would be to address the illegal behaviour. The third would be to demonstrate that, although the allegations are true, other laws overrule Serious Crime Act 2007.

Throughout my correspondence with HMRC, I have asked questions and given the opportunity for HMRC to take one of these responses, which they have failed to do. Instead, they have chosen to try to bully me into illegal action, with threats of fines, bailiffs and court action.

In March 2015, I asked:

  • “Do you dispute my concerns regarding climate change?
  • What action is being taken to address these concerns?
  • Do you believe that the offence of failing to file a tax return is more serious than those of encouraging and assisting manslaughter or human rights offences?”

No attempt whatsoever has been made to demonstrate that the allegations are false. This is understandable, particularly since the Dutch government have recently been sued for the same offences.

No action has been taken to address HMRC’s illegal behaviour. Instead, HMRC have tried to shift the blame to the government. This is not a valid excuse for illegal action.

In more recent correspondence, HMRC appear to argue that, for some unknown reason, Taxes Management Act 1970 overrules Section 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007. Whilst I have given a clear description of my allegations, the responses have been vague and lack any reference to case or statute.

In response to my explanation of why the more recent and more serious legislation in Serious Crime Act 2007 would override Taxes Management Act 1970 (HMRC/08, 3 August 2015), HMRC replied “The points you have raised do not affect your obligation to comply with UK tax legislation.” No attempt was made to counter my arguments or to demonstrate why Section 46 would not affect my obligations under Taxes Management Act 1970.

I have several complaints concerning my dealings with HMRC:

  • None of my questions have yet been answered.
  • I requested that my case to be forwarded to a department capable of dealing with my allegations, which appears not to have been done.
  • Without responding to any of my concerns, HMRC have attempted to fine me. It is unreasonable to apply a penalty whilst queries regarding the legality of filing are still pending.

See full letter

1 February 2016

The Adjudicator's Office - "We have asked HMRC to send us a detailed report"

We have asked HMRC to send us a detailed report explaining the actions they have taken regarding your complaint. Once we have received HMRC's report we will share a copy of it with you, prior to starting our investigation, so you can tell us about any points you feel are inaccurate and provide us with evidence in support of your complaint.

See full letter

11 February 2016

Debt collectors - "£1,300.00 must be paid immediately"

We are a Debt Collection Agency and we have been appointed to collect an outstanding debt that you owe to HM Revenue & Customs.

The outstanding amount of £1,300.00 must be paid immediately.

If you believe that there is a valid reason why you are not liable for some or all of this debt then it is imperative that you contact us immediately to avoid this matter escalating further.

You should be in no doubt that if you fail to contact us to arrange payment of this debt or to present any information in dispute of the amount outstanding, we will pursue the monies owed.

You should read this communication carefully and reply without delay.

See full letter

20 February 2016

Pedro (To the debt collectors) - "I’m sorry to hear that HMRC have dragged you into their legal difficulties"

I’m sorry to hear that HMRC have involved your company in this dispute; my case is still being reviewed by the Adjudicator, as HMRC have failed to address any of my legal concerns and have failed to answer any of my questions.

I have been unable to file my tax return, as it would be illegal to do so.

I am not liable for any of the debt in question. HMRC, having failed to address any of my legal concerns or answer any of my questions, are in no position to apply penalties for failure to file my tax return. I have repeatedly reassured HMRC that I would be willing to file my tax return if they could demonstrate that it would not be illegal to do so.

Following up this case on behalf of HMRC would also be illegal under the Serious Crime Act, as this would encourage me to commit the offence of assisting HMRC’s offences.

Once again, I’m sorry to hear that HMRC have dragged you into their legal difficulties. I strongly recommend that you return this case to HMRC if you do not wish to appear in court alongside HMRC. Any further correspondence may be used in court as evidence against you.

See full letter

24 February 2016

Debt collectors (getting impatient waiting for my reply) - "HMRC take the non-payment of tax debts very seriously"

You cannot expect HM Revenue & Customs to allow you to continue to ignore the debt that you owe them.

HM Revenue & Customs take the non-payment of tax debts very seriously. Failure to contact us to resolve this matter may lead to HM Revenue & Customs considering enforcement action which may include:

  • An agent of HM Revenue & Customs visiting your premises to collect payment or seizing goods as the law allows.
  • HM Revenue & Customs commencing legal proceedings against you to recover this debt.

See full letter

2 March 2016

Debt collectors - "Provide our offices with a copy of any documentation"

We note from your correspondence that you are currently disputing this account with our client as you believe that various legal statutes would prevent you from doing so.

As such, we politely request that you provide our offices with a copy of any documentation sent to our client in the course of your dispute with HMRC. Please ensure that this includes the date upon which it was sent, and the address of the HMRC office to which it was sent.

Please also provide our offices with any response you may have received from HMRC regarding your appeal of this account.

Please be advised that we have placed the account on hold for 14 days in order to allow you the time to process our correspondence and respond with the information we have requested. Please ensure that contact is made within this time to avoid returning to our collections activity.

See full letter

15 March 2016

Pedro (To the debt collectors) - "My correspondence with HMRC..."

Please find enclosed a USB memory stick containing my correspondence with HMRC and their responses. To date I am still waiting for HMRC’s report from the Adjudicator’s Office.

Please ensure that the USB memory stick is returned within 13 days.

See full letter

23 March 2016

Debt collectors - "We have placed your account on hold"

We can confirm that we have forwarded your information onto our client for their assessment.

We have placed your account on hold in the meantime, which will suspend any further action whilst we await their reply. We will contact you as soon as we receive a response.

See full letter

11 April 2016

HMRC pass the case on to another debt collector (yawn) - "We have been appointed by HMRC..."

We have been appointed by HM Revenue & Customs to recover the amount of £1300.00. The amount due is regarding Self-Assessment. If you would like to verify that we are an authorised supplier of HM Revenue & Customs you can do so by visiting www.HMRC.gov.uk.

It is important that you pay this amount immediately. You can pay using any of the methods listed on the reverse of this letter. This will avoid any further letters or telephone calls from us.

If you are having difficulty maying payment or you wish to discuss this matter, please call a Customer Services Consultant today on 0141 447 0539.

See full letter

15 April 2016

I respond to second debt collector - "I’m sorry to hear that HMRC have dragged you into their legal difficulties"

I’m sorry to hear that HMRC have involved your company in this dispute; as you may be aware, Advantis Credit Ltd have recently returned this case to HMRC after reviewing our correspondence.

On 12 January I wrote to the Adjudicator’s Office to dispute this case. On 1 February, the Adjudicator wrote to HMRC requesting a detailed report explaining their actions; HMRC have failed to produce this report or address any of my legal concerns and have failed to answer any of my questions.

Once again, I’m sorry to hear that HMRC have dragged you into their legal difficulties. I strongly recommend that you return this case to HMRC if you do not wish to appear in court alongside HMRC. Any further correspondence may be used in court as evidence against you.

See full letter


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At the time of writing, I'm still waiting for HMRC to respond to the Adjudicator's Office and the debt collectors...


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About the author

Pedro (Pete Brace) graduated from university with a first class honours degree in Computer Science. He then went on to work in the video games industry for 7 years, soon earning a good salary as a Lead Game Programmer, but living an unfulfiling and unsustainable life. In the end he came to his senses and left his job to find a more sustainable life. He is now very happy living as an eco-peasant at Tinkers' Bubble fossil fuel free community in Somerset, UK, where he earns around 97% less than in his old job. [1]