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HMRC 'hit by Brexit and Paradise Papers'

From BBC - January 11, 2018

MPs are "far from confident" that HM Revenue and Customs can deal with the tax avoidance allegations made in the wake of the Paradise Paper leaks.

The public accounts committee said the department would also struggle to deal with the pressure of Brexit and its own internal changes.

HMRC believes Brexit alone could add 15% to its workload, the report said.

The department says it has secured billions tackling tax avoidance and is focused on making Brexit a success.

HMRC is undertaking 15 major transformation projects, according to the MPs' report, involving the closure of offices around the country, relocating staff to 13 regional centres and and making tax returns digital.

'Not deliverable'

The public accounts committee said that was now "not deliverable" as originally envisaged because of pressure on the department.

This could increase further if HMRC gets hold of the so-called Paradise Papers - leaked financial documents which revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy invest cash in offshore tax havens - the committee said.

The MPs' report quoted the department itself saying it was "not credible" to continue with its transformation programme as it is. It said HMRC had to "be clear about what it will do differently... and what the impact will be on customer service".

Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said the overhaul of HMRC "would have been less risky had it not attempted to do everything at the same time".

'Wholly unacceptable'

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