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UK tax chief Dave Hartnett faces pressure to resign over £25 billion tax break for big business

HMRC chief Dave Hartnett faces pressure to resign over £25 billion tax break for big business

The country's most senior tax collector Dave Hartnett has been condemned by MPs for "scandalising" mistakes as pressure grew for him to resign immediately and it emerged he could walk away with a bonus and £1.7 million pension pot.

[Image: hartnett_2024762b.jpg] HMRC chief Dave Hartnett Photo: Jonathan Banks

[Image: Mason_60_1768768j.jpg]
By Rowena Mason, Political Correspondent

8:04AM GMT 21 Dec 2011

Mr Hartnett, the permanent secretary at HM Revenue and Customs was yesterday heavily criticised by MPs for being "unduly cosy" with big business.

In a damning report, the Public Accounts Committee found that tax officials have not collected up to £25 billion from big businesses.

On top of that, the tax authority was found to have made a series of "sweetheart" deals with major companies, including a decision to waive a £10 million bill for giant US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The controversy yesterday divided the Coalition, as the Prime Minister backed the taxman and Liberal Democrats expressed their concern at the revelations.

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HMRC announced last week that the top tax official will take early retirement next summer with a pension pot of £1.7 million This is likely to pay out around £75,000 to £80,000 a year, plus a lump sum worth around £160,000.
"HMRC treats all taxpayers even-handedly," a spokesman for David Cameron said. "They support the majority of taxpayers who want to pay their taxes so that they can comply with tax law, and they crack down hard on people who seek to evade tax or avoid tax."
In contrast, Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said he was "scandalised" to discover that "leading companies are dodging taxes".
HMRC confirmed yesterday that one civil servant was denied a bonus over "mistakes" made during Goldman Sachs deal, but this was not Mr Hartnett.
A spokesman for the taxman would not say whether Mr Hartnett would still be receiving a bonus, adding that this year's awards have still not been decided.
Lord Oakeshott, the former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, called for Mr Hartnett to resign immediately over the "incompetence and inertia" revealed at HMRC.
"This is a defining moment in the battle for tax transparency," he said. "HMRC must no longer hide its woeful performance against multi-national tax avoidance behind a cloak of confidentiality designed centuries ago."
Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said it appeared that Mr Harnett had "lost the confidence of his own colleagues".
She said HMRC was facing "big system problems" that would require a new leadership.
Ms Hodge has been especially critical of the fact that HMRC had done deals with business that are not available to ordinary people struggling with their personal finances.
Last year £1.4 million people were sent backdated tax demands totalling almost £4 billion after problems with the PAYE system.
The revenue has also sought to raise hundreds of millions of pounds in extra revenues by cracking down on tax avoidance by workers.
However, HMRC claims the committee's report is "based on partial information, inaccurate opinion and some misunderstanding of facts".
A spokesman said the conclusions were "risible given that we're bringing in more money than ever before.
"Senior HMRC officials sought to be co-operative by providing as much information as possible within the legal constraints of taxpayer confidentiality," he said.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Just another Bullingdon boy protecting his mates. Confusedmallprint:

Only 1 suitable word for the entire political class: mobsters.

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