Wednesday, January 19, 2011

UK's NAO to investigate Vodafone-style sweet tax deals

The Financial Times is reporting that Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has responded to all the justifiable furore about Vodafone and other sweet tax deals in the time honoured fashion - by lashing out at whistleblowers. This is not as serious as the 'lashing out' currently being dealt to the brave Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, but still unpleasant. It outlines a series of problems that reveal a stance of kow-towing to big business (something that pre-dates the current coalition government, as outlined in the London chapter of Treasure Islands.)

The FT notes that

"HMRC has stepped up its inquiries into alleged leaks by its own officials following complaints about the private financial details of groups such as Vodafone appearing in the press. Five officials have been taken off long-standing corporate investigations and given other work.

Or, as one correspondent to TJN put it, HMRC top brass are:
"lashing out and sending completely innocent people to the eastern front."
But there's some more heartening news:

"So great is the concern that the National Audit Office is now launching an inquiry into the way that HMRC reaches tax settlements with major clients."

Good. And the FT notes, perhaps a tad wearily:

"in the age of austerity, there is a perception – whether fair or not – that HMRC is selling out to big business."

Something we at TJN are all familiar with. Private Eye has been covering the mess in detail.

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