What should be simple yes or no question has developed into a case of changing answers for changing times as the Solicitor General has said it could be criminal offence to confirm whether or not the island’s former health chief paid income tax.
Kathryn Magson was interim CEO of DHSC until earlier this year. Her actions while in the role have been subject to intense scrutiny following the Dr Rosalind Ranson tribunal.
The matter of Miss Magson’s employment arrangements while working for the gov have never been straight forward. During the tribunal itself former Chief Secretary Will Greenhow seemed confused as to whether or not she was ever even employed by the Manx gov.
In evidence given by Mr Greenhow, he said that Miss Magson was an employee of the island’s Public Service Commission.
However, this didn’t tally with previous statements from the gov and Miss Magson told the tribunal herself this wasn’t true. Miss Magson explained that that she was still employed by the NHS in the UK and that had been seconded by the Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group, where she was CEO.
The matter was first publicly raised back in December 2019 when ex DHSC minister David Ashford told the House of Keys that she was ‘on a secondment from her current role as Chief Executive at NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group to the Public Service Commission with effect from January 8 2020 until December 31 2021.’
When asked by Onchan MHK Julie Edge whether or not Miss Magson would be paying tax on the island, Mr Ashford said: ‘I am happy to confirm it will be subject to Manx tax.’
Following a further question from former Lib Vannin leader Kate Costain, Mr Ashford said: ‘I believe … my understanding is it will be a recharge arrangement where the DHSC will be recharged for the salary. Like I say, it will be Isle of Man Income Tax that will be paid, however, on that salary.’
However, when Douglas South MHK Claire Christian sought clarification from the Solicitor General Walter Wannenburgh as to whether Miss Magson paid income tax and NI between January 2020 and January 2022, he outlined the legal reasons why he couldn’t tell her.
Mr Wanneburgh’s answer in full read: ‘By section 106(1) of the Income Tax Act 1970, any person having any official duty under or in respect of the Income Tax Acts, has “a duty of confidentiality in relation to all income tax documents and information”: it is a criminal offence for such a person to disclose such material other than in the course of discharging their duty under the Acts (s106(3)).
‘Any tax payer has the right to expect that personal information provided to the Assessor will not be disclosed without their authority or unless required by law. In this latter respect, section 106 further provides specified exemptions from the general prohibition upon disclosure of documents and information – these generally relate to where disclosure is required to either assist the Assessor in discharging her various duties or associated functions or for other specific prescribed circumstances (s106(4),(4A)+(5)).
‘By section 106(4)(a) of the Act, confidential tax information can be disclosed to the Attorney General without offending the prohibition upon disclosure but disclosure to the Attorney General would be made for a particular purpose only (such as legal or enforcement proceedings) and it would be incumbent upon the Attorney General to ensure that the use of such material / information was confined to the purpose in connection with which it was disclosed to the Attorney General.
‘With particular regard for the Question tabled by Mrs Christian, the requested information has not in any event been provided to the Attorney General pursuant to the terms of the Income Tax Acts.’
Responding to this, Mrs Christian said: ‘How is it a simple question can be asked one day in Tynwald, but then cannot be verified some two years later, especially when it is of public interest? I am extremely disappointed and this is clear example of how this new administration is not being transparent, especially on such an important matter.’