The National Audit Office (NAO) concluded that five corporate tax dispute settlements with HMRC were “all reasonable” and produced a positive outcome for the Exchequer.
Based on an examination of five cases by tax expert Sir Andrew Park, the auditor general's latest report effectively exonerates outgoing permanent secretary for tax Dave Hartnett, who was personally involved in several of the so-called sweetheart tax deals. Sir Andrew found that all five deals were reasonable under the circumstances and at least one may have been better than reasonable.
The NAO review followed up concerns raised by the Public Accounts Committee about how HMRC had handled multi-million pound disuptes with the likes of Goldman Sachs and Vodafone. The study highlighted some procedural and governance concerns, but lived up to Private Eye’s prediction that with access to information on cases controlled by HMRC, "nothing too explosive is expected to come out".