What the NAO was actually criticising
The headline read NAO criticises HMRC tax deals, suggesting that they were not impressed with some of the settlements reached with large corporate bodies in the last year or two, explains Simon Sweetman.
Well, up to a point.
The NAO can have had no idea whether the settlements were technically reasonable. What they actually criticised was that in three cases one of the Commissioners who signed off the deal had also been part of the negotiating team, saying:
“This reduced the demonstrable assurance to taxpayers and Parliament that the settlements reached were appropriate…To give confidence to external and internal stakeholders, however, HMRC needs to ensure that, for all major tax disputes, there is a demonstrable separation between those responsible for negotiating the settlements and those responsible for approving them.”