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By Elizabeth Anderson Friday, 22 February 2013

HMRC names and shames mini businesses dodging tax

As multinationals are criticised for paying little or no corporation tax, HMRC turns its guns on the UK's tiniest companies.

A hairdresser and a coach operator are two of the business owners ousted by HM Revenue and Customs as part of a scheme to highlight deliberate tax avoiders.

For the first time, HMRC has published the names of nine individuals and businesses which each owe more than £25,000 in tax. HMRC hopes that by naming and shaming tax dodging small firms on a list to be updated every three months, it will persuade those thinking of avoiding tax to pay up.

Yet the idea has backfired, with many saying HMRC is picking on easy targets. MPs and tax experts last night criticised the plan for targeting the owners of small businesses while doing nothing to uncover billions of pounds worth of tax avoidance from big corporations such as the likes of Starbucks, Amazon and Google.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said that while everyone ‘should pay their tax, I hope that they are not letting bigger fish off of the hook.’

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