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HMRC: Government names new bosses at tax authority

HMRC sign Image copyright Getty Images

The government has appointed new bosses at the UK tax authority HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Jon Thompson has been appointed chief executive; he is currently Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.

Edward Troup, who has been responsible for tax policy and strategy and also oversees large tax settlements at HMRC, becomes its executive chair.

HMRC has recently attracted criticism from MPs. The current chief executive Dame Lin Homer steps down in April.

'Bad' service

Last November, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee issued a critical report, arguing HMRC must do more to ensure all tax is paid.

"It beggars belief that, having made disappointing progress on tax evasion and avoidance, the taxman also seems incapable of running a satisfactory service for people trying to pay their fair share," committee chair Meg Hillier said.

HMRC's customer service was considered "so bad" it could be leading to lower tax collection, the committee said.

And earlier today HMRC was criticised over its tax agreement with Google.

The Public Accounts Committee said the £130m settlement "seems disproportionately small", compared with the size of its UK business.

Image caption Outgoing HMRC chief executive Dame Lin Horner

'Huge asset'

The committee said it was not possible to judge whether the agreement had been fair to taxpayers, because of the lack of transparency over details of the settlement and how it was reached.

In response HMRC said it "does not settle for a penny less than is due under the law from multinationals. Last year we brought in an additional £7bn by rigorously enforcing the tax rules that apply to large businesses."

Commenting on the new appointments, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in a statement that he was "pleased" that Mr Troup and Mr Thompson had agreed to their new roles:

"I am confident that Edward's wealth of experience in tax, including most recently as Tax Assurance Commissioner, and Jon's operational and financial expertise, most recently as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, will prove to be a huge asset to HMRC as it improves its customer service and continues its vital work to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion."

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who was formerly chair of the public accounts committee, tweeted that the appointment of Mr Troup was "good news for big biz, bad news for ordinary taxpayers".

She referred to a comment made by Mr Troup in 1999 when he said: "Taxation is legalised extortion and is valid only to the extent of the law."

Dame Lin was awarded a damehood in the New Year's honours.

She joined HMRC in January 2012, having served as permanent secretary at the Department for Transport.

Earlier this month, during a hearing before MPs over Google's tax deal, Dame Lin said she did not consider herself an "deep expert" on tax.

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