BKL tax partner David Whiscombe has commented via the UK200Group on the accusation that HMRC let the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, off £20 million in tax in a “sweetheart” deal to avoid “major embarrassment” for George Osborne as they threatened to pull out of the Government’s non-binding Code of Practice on Taxation for Banks.
“Dontcha just love it when people’s dirty linen gets washed in public? We suspect that most large organisations of any kind have things they would much rather were kept buried in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of The Leopard”. But of course those are precisely the things which need to be exposed, especially when the large organisation is a government department and supremely so when it’s Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. As it is, we have an uncomfortable feeling that far too much, which we have a legitimate interest in knowing, is kept hidden from us by invoking dubious claims of “taxpayer confidentiality” and the like.
“It’s very worrying that the actions of a public servant (which should be determined solely by the public interest) should appear to be influenced by the perceived risk of causing “major embarrassment” to himself or his political masters: frankly the greater the risk of embarrassment the more we’d like to know about it.
“Mr Cameron isn’t the only “call me Dave” who has some explaining to do. The difference is that Mr Cameron was democratically elected and is answerable to the electorate. But Mr Hartnett?”