MPs hit out at Vodafone 'tax let-off'
HM Revenue & Customs officials were criticised yesterday for
allowing Vodafone to pay just £1.25bn in a tax dispute with the
Government, despite a potential tax bill of what could be as much
MPs from the Commons Public Accounts Committee quizzed tax officials over deals made with Vodafone and investment bank Goldman Sachs. HMRC branded reports earlier this year that Vodafone escaped paying £6bn in tax "absurd".
But Stephen Barclay, an MP on the committee, put the possible sum even higher. "We are looking at potentially £8bn of tax lost," he said. "We're looking at a company that was given five years to pay even though it was sitting on a cash pile."
HMRC officials were also questioned about a debt deal with Goldman Sachs, which is believed could have cost the taxpayer a potential £10m.
Tax chief Dave Hartnett said an error that slashed Goldman Sachs' debt was dealt with through a staff member's annual appraisal. HMRC has been accused of giving Goldman a "sweetheart" deal that waived £10m of interest on a £30m bill from a failed tax avoidance scheme on bankers' bonuses. Mr Hartnett is said to have personally sealed the agreement with a Goldman executive last November, after being advised by an official that there was a "legal impediment" to charging interest.
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