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HM Revenue & Customs are about to introduce a new system which will provide assurance checks on all settlements over £100 million. The move follows a public outcry in which Dave Hartnett, the top tax official, was accused of arranging “sweetheart” deals with large companies like Vodafone and Goldman Sachs. Settlements of this size will, in future, be examined by an “assurance commissioner”. MRC want to provide reassurance that large corporations are treated exactly the same as individual taxpayers and smaller businesses.

The public were angered that large companies could make use of tax loopholes and schemes set up for tax evasion, to avoid paying their fair share of tax. The news, which was originally published by Private Eye publication, came during a period when UK households were facing spending cuts and increased late filing penalties.

Although the Public Accounts Committee criticised HMRC, the Treasury issued reassurance that large corporations didn’t receive special treatment. Confidentiality rules prevented HMRC from defending themselves against accusations of underhand behaviour.

The president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Anthony Thomas said:

“For the tax system to operate effectively, there must be mutual trust between taxpayers, the tax profession and HMRC. That trust has been severely dented in recent times. A major factor has been the perception that HMRC treats big business more favourably than small firms and ordinary taxpayers.”

It is possible for a reputable small business accountant to minimise tax bills in a legitimate manner, while claiming allowances and tax reliefs which may be due.




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