The chief executive of HM Revenue & Customs, Lin Homer, has denied that big businesses are given special favours in tackling tax evasion and fraud.
During an evidence session with the Public Accounts Committee on 5 November 2012, committee chair Margaret Hodge said there was a perception and "public anger" that tax officials were "hassling" small businesses and individuals, instead of pursuing large companies.
"If you're a big corporation, you might be asked in for a cup of coffee. There is no similar stringent fair effort taking place [to tackle tax evasion]", she claimed.
But Ms Homer said she was "absolutely clear" that the rules were applied fairly. She admitted that HMRC officials often had "one to one relations" with big corporations, "but this is to make sure they comply".
The session focused on the
by the National Audit Office on the annual accounts of HMRC, which found that in 2011-12, HMRC received total revenue of £474.2bn, an increase of £4.5bn (0.96%) more than in 2010-11.
VAT revenue has increased by £9.3bn, largely because of the VAT rate increase and increases in revenue from the oil, gas and business services sectors.
However, revenue from corporation tax had seen a slight drop, and Labour MP Austin Mitchell questioned whether this was due to a rise in tax evasion.
Ms Homer rejected this suggestion, claiming that "we've made progress in ensuring that senior people take tax seriously".
Evidence was also taken from:
• Director General, Benefits and Credits at HMRC, Nick Lodge
• HMRC Chief Finance Officer, Simon Bowles
• HMRC Tax Assurance Commissioner, Edward Troup