Top five news stories: Google back in tax trouble

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This week saw Google called before the Public Accounts Committee (again) over its UK tax arrangements, Lauryn Hill locked up and The Apprentice back on our TV screens. Steven Perryman picks his top five news stories from the past week

1. Google back in tax trouble

You can’t keep a good woman down. Or, indeed, Margaret Hodge out of the news. Never one to miss out on the zeitgeist, she decided cyclists have been having things their own way far too much.

Retribution was typically swift and direct, with Hodge taking down a two-wheeled enthusiast with her car door whilst on the local election campaign trail. It was all an accident, apparently.

After dusting herself down and straightening her obligatory brown suit jacket, she turned back to more familiar territory by announcing that Google and Ernst & Young will appear before her Public Accounts Committee on 16 May to testify on the internet giant’s tax position. Again.

With the promise of more MP huffing, puffing and finger waving, it should be a treat. We can’t wait.

2. Lauryn Hill goes to prison, ready or not

Contestants of The Voice beware. Should you have the luck to land this year’s title, watch what you do with the spoils of your success (even if, as last year’s winner Leanne Mitchell discovered, there aren’t any).

As we reported a few weeks back the former Fugees frontwoman, Lauryn Hill, was facing 30 months in jail as a result of $500,000 (£330,000) in overdue taxes. This week her miseducation of tax cost her three months of freedom, with the star found guilty and ordered to report to prison on 8 July.

Ready or not, here she comes.

3. HMRC closes in on rich offshore tax evaders

The UK’s tax arrangements continued to dominate the news this week. As the dust settles (again) on another tax avoidance storm, tax evasion sprang onto the news agenda.

The Guardian reported that more than 100 of Britain’s richest people have been caught hiding billions of pounds in secretive offshore havens, sparking an unprecedented global tax evasion investigation.

HMRC has warned those involved, who were named in offshore data first offered to the authorities by a whistleblower four years ago, that they will face ‘criminal prosecution or significant penalties’ if they do not voluntarily disclose their tax irregularities.

The move is part of the Government department’s Evasion Strategy (everything’s a strategy these days, isn’t it?) and could spell the end of offshore arrangements.

4. New research shows you need more than 40 winks

Are you a bit last minute when it comes to revision or preparing for an important meeting? I think we’ve all been there. Staying up late fuelled by Pro Plus and random late-night game shows on TV is a rite of passage when you’re a student, right?

Well, think again. This week the BBC reported that recent research has shown that sleep deprivation is a significant hidden factor in lowering the achievement of students. Hectic lifestyles fuelled by new technology and social media are to blame, apparently.

So, go on: log off of this site now, put on some Kenny G and get some kip. You’ll thank me in the morning.

5. The Apprentice is back, man

Everyone’s favourite advert for London – I mean reality show – returned to our screens this week. Yep, Lord Sugar returned armed with tasks to sell Chinese lucky cats and rhubarb-flavoured home brew in a two-episode launch extravaganza.

Highlight of the week – apart from Alex Mills’s startling eyebrows and penchant for wearing an overcoat over his shoulders – had to be first evictee Jaz Ampaw-Farr referring to Lord Sugar in street parlance (‘man’) in the boardroom. She was doomed from that moment on, really.

Former contestant Katie Wright, the self-styled ‘Blonde Assassin’ from last year’s series, reviewed the first episode exclusively on AAT Comment this week. In it, she spoke of being thrust from obscurity ‘straight into a world where it’s perfectly acceptable to stamp on your peers, scream over each other and bully unsuspecting buyers into buying utter tat.’

Roll on the next eight weeks, man.

Steven Perryman is AAT‘s Editorial Manager

Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.

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