This is going to be absolutely fascinating

As Ritchie says:

A little over a year ago UK Uncut began its protests, and the world looked on, bemused. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t: I knew they’d hit the zeitgeist, although they and Occupy have done so in ways I could never have imagined. It’s been my pleasure to support both movements in the last year.

Tomorrow is a mass day of action by UK Uncut. Vodafone remains a rightful target. And the pressure is working. As the Mail reports:

Deals struck with the tax authorities to wipe billions of pounds off company bills are to be investigated by a former high court judge.

Sir Andrew Park will scrutinise the tax settlements of ten companies – including Vodafone and Goldman Sachs – following allegations that agreements were made between the firms and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to write off unpaid tax bills.

That’s the good news.

And it’s the right news we need to hear.

It is the news we need to hear. Absolutely correct.

Sir Andrew knows what he\’s talking about on tax.

called to the Bar Lincoln\’s Inn 1964, bencher 1986, in practice at Revenue Bar 1965-97, recorder of the Crown Ct 1989-95, judge of the High Ct of Justice (Chancery Div) 1997-2006

Now I\’ve my colours pretty much nailed to the mast on this subject, as has Ritchie. It\’s going to be terribly exciting to find out who is right, isn\’t it?

Further, the Public Accounts Committee report on the subject was apparently leaked to The Times for this morning. Anyone actually cough up for that paper and want to tell us what it says?

4 comments on “This is going to be absolutely fascinating

  1. Yes, it is good news. But if Sir Andrew concludes that there were no dodgy deals, will RM accept his verdict – or will he attempt to discredit Sir Andrew and rubbish his investigation?

  2. Up to ten companies are facing a judge-led investigation into their tax settlements amid growing concern over the way Revenue & Customs polices the City.
    Next week, the taxman will be accused of letting down the public through systematic management failures, after signing questionable deals with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs that have angered politicians and generated mass protests.
    MPs believe that the settlements with these companies deprived taxpayers of up to £2 billion and £20 million respectively. The Public Accounts Committee, will publish a sharply crtitical report, turning its fire on David Hartnett, who announced his retirement as head of the department on Friday, as well as other senior staff there.
    The report was agreed by MPs yesterday and will pave the way for a National Audit Office investigation, to be led by a judge, who will examine up to ten large corporate tax deals.
    The Revenue will have to justify why they are reasonable, how they complied with legal advice and set out how the decisions match internal guidelines. But the inquiry will not result in the companies facing additional tax bills.
    It will also set the scene for a battle over whether Parliament should be handed the power to scrutinise deals between big corporations and the taxman, amid growing support from MPs.
    Margaret Hodge, the committee chairwoman leading the inquiry, said: “There’s a fundamental difference between taxing an individual and taxing a corporation.”
    Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, said: “Care would be needed before amending the strict rules on taxpayer confidentiality.” The report is understood to:
    · warn senior mandarins to suspend disciplinary action against Osita Mba, a Revenue whistle-blower, a solicitor who revealed Mr Hartnett’s role in the Goldman Sachs settlement;
    · call for root-and-branch reform so that negotiating teams are not also able to sign off the deals with companies;
    · question whether the Revenue should waive interest payments from companies.
    The report is also likely to criticise the lack of qualified tax experts at the Revenue, which included only one commissioner with “deep tax knowledge”. Committee members have noted that the new head, Lin Homer, is a lawyer and at present Permanent Secretary at the Department of Transport.
    It will stop short of saying that Mr Hartnett misled MPs, but it is likely to suggest that the hospitality he accepted from companies, including Goldman Sachs, was unwise. The department has been beset by low morale, as well as facing IT problems as it devises a new computer system to cope with universal credit.
    Mr Hartnett’s retirement next summer was announced only a month after he was formally promoted to run the department.
    Last night Labour wrote to the Treasury to demand whether Mr Hartnett’s departure was a result of his role brokering the deal with Goldman Sachs. Owen Smith, the Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The wholly unexpected announcement by Mr Hartnett that he is to retire in no way draws a line under this matter.”
    Separately the Treasury Select Committee will soon be producing a report on the underpayment of tax, likely to be another difficult moment for the department.
    Whitehall sources admitted that Mr Hartnett’s decision to announce his retirement was almost certainly linked to the Public Accounts Committee report.
    An Revenue spokesman emphasised that Mr Hartnett had taken up the job as chief executive only for a temporary period of a few weeks, to cover for a colleague’s illness.
    Last week Sir Gus O’Donnell, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, approved the appointment of Ms Homer.
    Only a month ago Sir Gus supported Mr Hartnett when he gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee about the Revenue. But one source said: “It would be expected for the Cabinet Secretary to support a senior official in public.”

  3. My own regular experience of working with HMRC on large tax investigations of businesses makes me confidant that the report will be highly critical on all sorts of procedural, organisational and governance points. Not on the central issue of whether the settlements were reasonable from a legal/taxpayer perspective, but on points of order, record keeping, etc.

    But some will be tempted to confuse the content findings with the process findings and claim ‘vindication’.

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