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MPs criticise HMRC’s ‘cosy relationships’ with big business

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has been accused of enjoying ‘unduly cosy’ relationships with big businesses, following the revelation that there remains more than £25 billion worth of unresolved tax issues with major companies.

In a new report, the Public Accounts Committee said it had ‘serious concerns’ about how some large settlements were reached and singled out Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax, for his role in negotiations with big firms.

The MPs claim that some big companies have been let off billions of pounds in tax payments because they were receiving ‘preferential treatment’ from the tax authority.

Margaret Hodge, the former Labour minister who chairs the committee, said: ‘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.’

However, HMRC rejected the committee’s conclusions. ‘The report is based on partial information, inaccurate opinion and some misunderstanding of facts,’ a spokesman said.

‘Senior HMRC officials sought to be co-operative by providing as much information as possible within the legal constraints of taxpayer confidentiality.’