Global Tax 50 2014: Edward Troup
HMRC's tax assurance commissioner and second permanent secretary
Edward Troup's HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been a political football in 2014. The UK tax authority has faced criticism – not all of it fair – from the opposition Labour party for being too soft, from taxpayers and advisers for being too harsh, and, amid the criticism, has been given the power to access bank accounts and seize assets by UK Chancellor George Osborne. Despite receiving a £900m reprieve in 2011, it has suffered sustained spending cuts from the last two governments including a 16.5% real-terms cut from 2010-2015, with its staffing levels taking hits in terms of both numbers and expertise.
Before taking on the Tax Assurance Commissioner role in 2012, Troup most recently worked as a Director General for HM Treasury, and he has experience as an adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
However his career was forged in the private sector as a partner at Simmons & Simmons, where he worked from the early 1980s to 2004 apart from during a spell as a special adviser to the Treasury between 1995 and 1997.
It is, in part, this past which attracts much of the criticism HMRC is open to – that it is too cosy with taxpayers due to many of its staff and directors having worked in accountancy firms and large corporations, where their interests would have been posed against that of the revenue authority. In 1999, Troup wrote for the Financial Times that taxation was "legalised extortion".
However, as HMRC has come under greater pressure from above to collect more revenue to plug the UK's budget deficit, there is a sense among advisers that it has become less friendly towards taxpayers than it had been in 2013.
With the Public Accounts Committee, led by Global Tax 50 2013 entrant Margaret Hodge, hounding it from the other side and pressing it to do more to tackle aggressive avoidance techniques, the authority is essentially in a no-win situation, stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Aside from tackling multinational tax avoidance, a big theme in UK tax policy during 2014 was devolution. The momentum provided by Global Tax 50 2014 entrant Alex Salmond as he fought for Scottish independence from the rest of the UK led to talks on devolution not just of Scottish taxing powers, but also of similar powers in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Troup has been an important figure in these discussions regarding the devolution of taxing powers from Westminster to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and possibly even London, and will continue to play a key role as discussions continue into 2015.
The Global Tax 50 2014
Gold tier (ranked in order of influence)
1. Jean-Claude Juncker 2. Pascal Saint-Amans 3. Donato Raponi 4. ICIJ 5. Jacob Lew 6. George Osborne 7. Jun Wang 8. Inverting pharmaceuticals 9. Rished Bade 10. Will Morris
Silver tier (in alphabetic order)
Joaquín Almunia • Apple • Justice Patrick Boyle • CTPA • Joe Hockey • IMF • Arun Jaitley • Marius Kohl • Tizhong Liao • Kosie Louw • Pierre Moscovici • Michael Noonan • Wolfgang Schäuble • Algirdas Šemeta • Robert Stack
Bronze tier (in alphabetic order)
Shinzo Abe • Alberto Arenas • Piet Battiau • Monica Bhatia • Bitcoin • Bono • Warren Buffett • ECJ Translators • Eurodad • Hungarian protestors • Indian Special Investigation Team (SIT) • Chris Jordan • Armando Lara Yaffar • McKesson • Patrick Odier • OECD printing facilities • Pier Carlo Padoan • Mariano Rajoy • Najib Razak • Alex Salmond • Skandia • Tax Justice Network • Edward Troup • Margrethe Vestager • Heinz Zourek