MPs from the Public Account Committee (PAC) have published a report today on their dissatisfaction with HMRC's sweetheart deals with big business.
The PAC says that HMRC has yet to collect some 25 billion punds per year of disputed tax debts. Companies such as Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs have received highly favourable tax settlements and were waived interest on tax debts. These practices only came to light thanks to a whistle blower.
Both HMRC' Permanent Secretary Dave Hartnett and HMRC's lawyer both refused to divulge details of what they agreed, claiming that taxpayer confidentiality overrides their duty to Parliament. This stance has enraged MPs. It also emerged from minutes that Dave Hartnett had made errors in negotiations with Goldman Sachs, and then did nothing to correct them.
According to HMRC, Dave Hartnett's 107 lunches over two years with the same businesses and their advisers, had nothing to do with the cosy deals he agreed.
Many taxpayers and protesters seem staggered that Dave Hartnett has not resigned, it seems that he will retire on a full pension in Summer 2012.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling remarked in his book "Back from the brink", that when HMRC lost its data disks back in October 2007 no one in HMRC was apparently accountable then. HMRC's Chief Executive at the time Paul Grey did not actually resign over the affair: he stepped down to be moved sideways to work in the civil service under Gus O'Donnell. Gus O'Donnell, head of the Civil Service, also defended Dave Harnett in front of the PAC. The PAC in their report say that they "saw little evidence of a culture of personal accountability within the Department" (HMRC). It seems from the outside that this culture of unaccountability with the civil service looking after its own, continues.
The PAC have now recommended the appointment of a tax lawyer to the National Audit Office, so that NAO may investigate deals with large business.
Campaigners UK Uncut have applied for judicial review over HMRC's double standards.