Hodge: A damning indictment of HMRC

Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts (PAC) comments on her report into corporate tax avoidance
Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts (PAC) comments on her report into corporate tax avoidance

Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts (PAC) comments on her report into corporate tax avoidance:

"This report is a damning indictment of HMRC and the way its senior officials handle tax disputes with large corporations. We uncovered both specific and systemic failures which must be addressed.

"There is more than £25 billion outstanding in unresolved tax bills and it is essential that there should be proper accountability to Parliament for the settlements reached by HMRC.

"Having looked at the two cases in the public domain, we are concerned that many millions of pounds may be lost to the public purse.


"It is extremely disappointing that senior HMRC officials were not prepared to cooperate with our inquiry in a spirit of openness. We accept that there is a need for confidentiality to protect individual taxpayers, but this must not be used as a cloak to protect the Department from scrutiny.

"It is absurd that we had to rely on the media and the actions of a whistleblower to find out about the details of individual settlements. Parliament and the public have legitimate concerns that large companies are being treated more favourably than ordinary taxpayers, whether they be small businesses or hard-working families.

"The department's working practices must be seen by the taxpaying public to be absolutely impartial. The impression being given at the moment is quite the opposite, of far too cosy a relationship between HMRC and large companies.

"In several cases, HMRC chose to depart from its normal governance procedures. It is extraordinary that the same officials who negotiated deals also approved them. In one instance, a mistake led to a potential £20 million of interest on a tax liability not being collected. Parliament and the public must be assured that settlements do not short-change the exchequer."

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