Goldman Sachs £10m tax reprieve ‘was mistake’

13 October 2011

Goldman Sachs £10 million reprieve on interest the institution owed on bonus payments was a “mistake”, the UK’s tax authority has said.

According to Bloomberg, David Hartnett, permanent secretary for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), admitted the error while answering questions from a parliamentary committee.

Mr Harnett is believed to have agreed to the deal over a failed tax avoidance scheme in December last year, documents leaked to Private Eye and published by the UK’s Guardian showed.

In a statement, the HMRC told the newspaper: “The picture you have been given is incomplete and therefore fundamentally flawed but taxpayer confidentiality prevents us from correcting your story in detail.

“Dave Hartnett's long career in the tax service has been built on ensuring the right tax is paid by large businesses and individuals alike. HMRC does not do 'sweetheart' deals.”

During the meeting with the Common Public Accounts Committee, Mr Hartnett said the figure was less than £10 million but refused to provide any further details, again citing confidentiality issues.

The reprieve is believed to have come after an attempt by the bank to avoid paying a national insurance contribution on the bonuses it paid out to its London-based staff.

By Jim Ottewill

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