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High Court grants UK Uncut permission to challenge tax settlement

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UK Uncut Legal Action has been granted permission by the High Court to challenge HMRC’s settlement of a tax dispute with Goldman Sachs.

Campaigners allege that HMRC gave a ‘sweetheart deal’ to the company. HMRC admitted last year that an official’s ‘mistake’ had resulted in no interest being charged on unpaid tax when the parties settled a long-running dispute.

UK Uncut Legal Action was given leave by Mr Justice Simon, sitting in London, to ‘seek a declaration that an agreement allowing the banking giant to skip a multimillion-pound interest bill on unpaid tax on bonuses was unlawful’, the Press Association reported. The judge ruled that UK Uncut had ‘an arguable case’ that should go to a full judicial review hearing.

HMRC said: ‘We will strongly contest UK Uncut’s application. However, large business tax settlements are a vital part of how HMRC secures tax revenues for the country and without them Britain’s public finances would be seriously damaged and we welcome the judge's decision to refuse permission for UK Uncut's application to quash the settlement. We also welcome the opportunity to demonstrate that we acted legally.’

The National Audit Office is set to publish its report on HMRC’s conduct of large tax disputes tomorrow.