Uncut wants day in court with HMRC

Campaign group Uncut is taking action against UK Revenue & Customs on claims HMRC did a sweetheart deal with investment bank Goldman Sachs. Uncut have applied for a judicial review - it has strong public support from unions and NGOs - in an effort to recoup much-needed money for the taxpayer and address worries that big companies are treated differently. But it needs cash to do it.



Gamble

UK Uncut Legal Action has got representation from Leigh Day & Co on a 'no-win, no-fee' basis. If Uncut lose then they will need to pay the legal costs of HMRC and Goldman Sachs. Uncut has raised £9,600 so far and is asking supporters to donate £1 each. (But you would have thought a few super-wealthy pop or film starts could dip into their pockets.)

Last October it emerged that Goldman Sachs had been able to snip its UK tax bill by £10million in 2010 after a HMRC agreement allowing it to avoid paying interest on £30million back taxes.

Leigh solicitor Richard Stein asked HMRC in October to quash the deal, though Stein says there has been little response from HMRC, apart from HMRC claiming it needed more time to examine the case.

Cosy terms

The case is important because it highlights the increasingly - so it appears - cosy relationship HMRC has struck with big corporates. (It's estimated the UK loses around £25bn every year in tax avoidance from large companies.) But it's not just enough to plug a few loop-holes; the issue is also about HMRC being much more assertive with corporates.

Earlier this week the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee delivered a bruising verdict on HMRC's ability to handle payment disputes with large corporations with 'specific and systemic' failures, it said.

Disgracefully, HMRC even launched a disciplinary procedure against its own internal whistle-blower, Osita Mba, the tax solicitor who alleged that large City companies were being given extraordinarily lenient treatment from HMRC. This investigation has now been suspended.

You can donate to Uncut's legal bill here.
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