Big firms let off £25BILLION in taxes: As families are chased for every penny, corporate giants dodge their massive bills
WHY ARE POLITICIANS WHINGING- THEY DON’T PAY A FAIR WHACK EITHER!!
Big firms have it ‘far too easy’ says withering report
Criticism of HMRC’s refusal to answer questions about its dealings with big businesses
By Becky Barrow
Last updated at 2:42 AM on 20th December 2011
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Britain’s biggest firms owe the taxman up to £25.5billion, but are regularly let off the hook, MPs say today.
By contrast, families and small businesses are treated much more harshly and forced to pay up.
The sum owed by corporate giants is the equivalent of £1,000 for every British family, or the equivalent of everyone in the UK paying an extra 6p on the basic rate of income tax.
The 25.5bn is HMRC’s own ‘ballpark estimate’ of the maximum tax liabilities of big businesses
In a withering attack, the Public Accounts Committee accuses HM Revenue and Customs of having a ‘far too cosy’ relationship with big firms, which are repeatedly allowed to cut their tax bills or avoid paying interest.
The report, published today, says: ‘We have serious concerns that large companies are treated more favourably by HMRC than other taxpayers.’
It criticises the department’s ‘specific and systemic failures’.
Margaret Hodge, Labour chairman of the committee, says the report is ‘a damning indictment of HMRC’.
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She is particularly critical of the refusal by the department’s executives to answer questions from MPs about details of its dealings with big business.
They insisted that there were issues of confidentiality, but Mrs Hodge dismissed these claims, saying they are using ‘a cloak to protect the department from scrutiny’.
The report says executives, such as the outgoing chief executive Dave Hartnett, gave ‘imprecise, inconsistent and potentially misleading answers’, and states: ‘This situation is entirely unacceptable.’
In total, the report says, HMRC is seeking to resolve more than 2,700 issues with the biggest companies, including disputes over outstanding tax, with potential tax at stake of £25.5billion.
Scathing: Margaret Hodge, Labour chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said the report is a ‘damning indictment of HMRC’ LOL!!!
It warns: ‘The department has left itself open to suspicion that its relationship with large companies is too cosy.’
The £25.5billion is HMRC’s own ‘ballpark estimate’ of the maximum potential tax liabilities of big businesses, calculated before any proper investigation has taken place.
‘This report will increase suspicions that big businesses are treated differently’
The figure can be dramatically cut by a business legitimately applying for a relief, or being able to offset a tax liability against a loss made in the previous financial year.
The report is published days after Mr Hartnett, 60, announced his plans to retire next year following a barrage of criticism surrounding his running of the department.
He will not be leaving empty-handed. He stands to scoop a pension which is currently worth between £75,000 and £80,000 a year.
This gold-plated sum will be paid after Mr Hartnett has taken a lump sum of between £160,000 and £165,000 from his £1.7million pension pot.
The report is critical of his attendance at a ‘significant’ number of lunches and dinners ‘with large companies with whom HMRC was settling complex tax disputes’.
Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Ordinary taxpayers often feel that they are treated harshly when they make genuine mistakes because of our complicated tax system.
‘This report will increase suspicions that big businesses are treated differently.’
HMRC executives, such as the outgoing Dave Hartnett, were ‘imprecise and inconsistent’, according to the report
One of the most notorious cases involved Goldman Sachs, the American investment bank known for the multi-million bonuses paid to many of its staff every year.
Under a controversial ‘sweetheart’ deal, the report says the taxman lost up to £20million from interest payments that could have been claimed. Some of these big business settlements are currently the subject of a separate investigation by the Government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office.
HMRC has been responsible for a catalogue of errors recently. Around 6million taxpayers are currently getting letters saying they have over-paid, and can expect to get back £400 each, equal to £2.5billion. Around 1.2million others are being told they need to pay an average of £600 more.
Yesterday an HMRC spokesman rejected the MPs’ report, saying it was based on ‘partial information, inaccurate opinion and some misunderstanding of facts’.
He said the £25.5billion figure was ‘a ballpark estimate of maximum potential tax liabilities’. It is not ‘actual tax’ that is owed or unpaid.
He added: ‘In many cases, when HMRC has looked at the full facts, it becomes clear that there is no further liability at all.’
David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘The Government has full confidence in HMRC and its current leadership.’
“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power” – Benito Mussolini
– XP, London, UK, 20/12/2011 04:06