UK Uncut can challenge Goldman Sachs 'sweetheart' tax deal


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The Independent Online

The anti-tax avoidance group UK Uncut has been given permission to challenge a so-called “sweetheart” deal agreed between HM Revenue and Customs and Goldman Sachs, which they claim allowed the investment bank to get away with as much as £20m, which should have been collected by the tax man.

The judge ruled the group had “an arguable case” that should go to a full judicial review hearing after its lawyers claimed HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) failed to carry out its legal duty to renegotiate a deal with the bank after it emerged the government had a mistake in the original talks.

That error led to the agreement to recoup money owed to HMRC by the bank not including interest payments. Lawyers for UK Uncut Legal, a splinter group of the movement which carried out the Fortnum and Mason protest during widescale protests in London last March, told the High Court this morning that HMRC did not go back to the bank to demand the money, despite having both the legal power - and obligation to do so.

They asked the judge to grant them permission to seek a declaration that the agreement was unlawful. They want £20 million allegedly involved to be returned to the public purse.

Lawyers for HMRC argued that a judicial review could not be brought without endangering tax-payer confidentiality, which it said was of paramount importance.

The National Audit Office is due to publish a report into HMRC’s dealings with large firms over tax owed tomorrow morning but the companies involved have not yet been named.