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Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Tuesday, 20 December 2011

'Systemic' problems at HMRC

A report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised the tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), saying there were "serious concerns" about how some large settlements were reached with big companies.

Chair of the committee Margaret Hodge MP told James Naughtie that the relationship between big companies and HMRC is "a bit like David and Goliath" because there are very few people with "deep knowledge" of tax at HMRC to go up against businesses which are very well advised in tax affairs.

HMRC "hide behind veil of secrecy", she said, in the name of taxpayer confidentiality so there is "no accountability about whether the deals provide good value of money".

She maintained that the committee would not relent, as the public must have confidence that taxmen are "treating everyone equally".

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