UK Politics

Business Secretary Vince Cable gets tax bill penalty

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Media captionVince Cable says an "honest mistake" resulted in tax being paid late

Business Secretary Vince Cable has been penalised by the taxman for failing to pay up to £25,000 in VAT.

The £500 penalty was for late payment of tax on earnings from media work and speaking engagements in 2009-10 - the year before he became a minister.

A spokesman for Mr Cable said all his tax affairs were "above board" and the penalty had been reduced by 50% because his liabilities were settled quickly.

The business secretary's accountants said the matter was now closed.

His aides reportedly told the Sun newspaper the error was made "unknowingly".

A No 10 spokesman said Mr Cable had "rectified an oversight" and the matter had been dealt with.

'None contested'

The newspaper claimed Mr Cable earned an estimated £192,000 from media work in 2009-10, on top of his MP's salary of £65,738, but did not tell HM Revenue and Customs that his income had exceeded a pre-set threshold.

HMRC rules state that if a person's annual turnover of VAT-liable goods and services exceeds £73,000, they must register for the duty within 30 days.

Accountants Myrus Smith said in a statement: "There are no tax payments outstanding and none are being contested.

"When it became clear that Mr Cable's earnings had breached the level at which VAT was payable, an offer to settle immediately and in full was made to HMRC and this was duly accepted.

"The matter was dealt with within a month of the Revenue being informed in the first instance and is now closed."

A spokesman for Mr Cable said, "All Vince's tax affairs are above board, and he went out of his way to settle this quickly - in fact HMRC let him off 50% of the usual penalty."

When he came business secretary in May 2010, Twickenham MP Mr Cable said tackling tax avoidance by businesses was "essential" and a personal priority of his.

In 2009, he wrote in a newspaper article that "the evidence of systematic tax avoidance by rich individuals and UK-based companies strikes a particularly ugly note in these straitened times".

No 10 said the case was closed and the prime minister had full confidence in the cabinet minister.

"From time to time we all make minor mistakes but the business secretary has rectified an oversight," she said.

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