Taxman to leave after £10m 'gift' to Goldman Sachs

 

The controversial taxman who signed off a deal that saved Goldman Sachs, one of the world's richest banks, up to £10m in tax is to retire.

Dave Hartnett, the Permanent Secretary for Tax at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), will leave the civil service next summer, it was announced yesterday.

Earlier this year he was accused of misleading Parliament after telling a Commons committee he "did not deal with Goldman's tax affairs", only for a whistleblower to reveal Mr Hartnett had signed off the agreement to waive up to £10m interest on unpaid tax.

Mr Hartnett denied lying and insisted he did not deal with the bank's tax affairs "in the normal sense" when he was challenged by Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Mrs Hodge responded by accusing him of "laughable" denials.

It was just one of several controversies HMRC became embroiled in while Mr Hartnett was Permanent Secretary for Tax but his new boss was anxious to say that far from being an early retirement forced upon him his departure had in fact been been postponed.

Lin Homer, who was unveiled yesterday as the new head of HMRC, expressed delight that he would stay on for her first few months in the post. He will stay on until next summer. She added: "Dave is widely-recognised as a tax leader at home and abroad, and has secured billions in tax for the UK that would otherwise have been lost through avoidance, evasion and fraud."

As a Permanent Secretary Mr Hartnett, who celebrates his 61st birthday in February, would normally be expected to retire at the age of 60. He was appointed to the post in 2008.

Other controversies include the £1.25bn settlement agreed with Vodaphone even though the amount initially demanded was said to be as much as £6bn. Mr Hartnett conceded that "governance errors" had been made in the handling of the claim but insisted the company's liability was no greater than £1.25bn.

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