Parliament releases damning report on dodgy corporate tax deals

Posted on Tue 20th Dec 2011, 1:00am
We can be one of the first to reveal the details of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) damning report- released today. It describes systematic failures and fundamental concerns at the way HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) operates regarding its handling of billions of pounds worth of tax disputes.

This report is an important reflection of fourteen months of UK Uncut campaigning by people up and down the country.

Here’s a summary of the key points from the PAC report:

HMRC is currently sitting on £25bn worth of tax disputes from 2,700 companies.

There is an unfair disparity between the way some large corporations and ordinary tax payers are treated by the tax office. Companies have millions wiped off their tax bills, or they are given ten years to pay their liabilities. Small business owners or individuals do not receive this favorable treatment.

HMRC is unaccountable and secretive. Neither parliament, nor the general public, have any oversight. The PAC finds it farcical that HMRC keeps details about high value corporate tax deals that involve billions of pounds secret. They argue that there is less justification for keeping tax information about big companies confidential than for information about individuals.

That when called into Parliament to answer important questions about controversial tax details that have lost the public billions of pounds, Dave Hartnett – the chief tax man – gave “imprecise, inconsistent, and potentially misleading” information. Senior officials are seriously failing to be open and accountable.

That HMRC routinely ignores its own governance procedures and that we have a ludicrous situation where those negotiating tax deals can also ‘sign off’ on these deals, sometimes even without third party legal oversight. This means that some of these tax deals could not only be outrageous, but also unlawful.

There is a complete failure by tax officials to take any responsibility for HMRC’s failings.