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Press watch: HMRC settlements

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‘The latest revelation about the UK tax authorities’ excruciating battle with Goldman Sachs shone more unfavourable light on HMRC’s conduct last week. The most important lesson of the saga is that it is in politicians’ hands to allow the tax office to fulfil its mission …

‘[HMRC] needs resources and backing to fight big battles. It must also be seen to be impartial when it negotiates. For citizens to trust that big companies are not getting sweetheart deals, lawmakers must find ways for settlements to be more open to public scrutiny.’

Editorial, Financial Times, 7 May 2013

‘According to [Dave] Hartnett, deals in excess of £1bn are "not uncommon". HMRC say that a lot of dosh is collected by protecting taxpayer confidentiality. But Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, surely has a point when she asks that if we got £4.5bn from four settlements alone, how many more billions have slipped under the thickly piled carpet? The fact is that major deals are being struck about which we know nothing. If they are such good value, why be so shy? Wherefore the modesty? Why not publish the details of each one as a matter of course and let the public judge for itself?’

Editorial, The Guardian, 4 May 2013