HMRC OFFICIALS are currently investigating the tax affairs of more than 4,000 businesses as the tax office continues to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.
The disclosure was made during hours of questioning by MPs over the practice, although the amount of large corporates was not revealed, reports the Financial Times.
Lin Homer, chief executive of HMRC, admitted the Revenue “sometimes gets things wrong” after the committee pursued an aggressive line of questioning over so-called sweetheart deals made with large companies on long-running tax disputes.
One such deal struck with investment bank Goldman Sachs is being challenged in the courts by activists’ group UK Uncut over £20m in interest being dropped from their tax bill.
Critics including MP Margaret Hodge described the deals as a “let-off” that cost the taxpayer billions of pounds.
Ms Homer, however, defended the deals, which were ruled to be a good result for the public purse in a report from the National Audit Office. Homer said the deals were preferable to costly and lengthy court battles.
The public accounts committee focused only on the affairs of corporations, rather than avoidance schemes involving individuals. Last week, high-profile cases involving celebrities including members of pop group Take That and the comedian Jimmy Carr came to public attention.
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The EC has been instructed to draft a European Union (EU) directive authorising an EU financial transaction tax, which would apply to ten of the EU’s 28 member states
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HMRC is continuing to ramp up the number of raids on premises it carries out as part of criminal investigations, searching 761 properties in the last year