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PM's ex-adviser: Big companies seen as 'above the law'

A former senior strategy adviser to David Cameron has said that there is a sense big firms appear to operate "above the law" as the Treasury faces further questions over its tax deal with Google.

Steve Hilton, a former adviser to David Cameron. Credit: PA Wire

Steve Hilton, who worked for the prime minister until 2012, told BBC Radio 4's Today:

There is a growing sense that companies that are so big and so dominant - not just in the marketplace but in the way they relate to governments, their lobbying efforts and so on - that they really are above the law.

In this particular case they have made clear that they were abiding by the law then, when the arrangements caused anger, and now that they have new arrangements.

...We have really got to make clear to businesses that they have a responsibility to behave in a way that earns public trust.

– Steve Hilton, former adviser to David Cameron



Osborne 'in £1 million inheritance tax giveaway'

The Chancellor has drawn up plans to allow parents to leave homes worth up £1 million to their children without paying inheritance tax, according to leaked Treasury papers.

The Guardian stated it had seen documents that also showed the inheritance tax bill on properties worth up to £2 million would be cut by £140,000 under the scheme.

It is understood the measure will not feature in Wednesday's Budget. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The papers, marked "sensitive", note the main beneficiaries of the plan - which would cost the Exchequer almost £1 billion a year - would "most likely benefit high income and wealthier households".

It is understood the measure will not feature in George Osborne's final Budget of the current Parliament tomorrow, but could be taken up by the Conservatives if they regain power after the General Election.

A Treasury spokeswoman said they had no comment on the report.

Miliband pledges review into HMRC approach to tax evasion

Labour leader Ed Miliband has promised an independent review into the way HMRC investigates tax evasion.

Speaking to delegates at the Welsh Labour Party Conference, he said:

Ed Balls and I are today announcing an independent, root and branch review of the culture and practice of HMRC when it comes to tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. While this government has had five years of inaction, we will begin from the first days we are in government and it will report within three months. It will shine a light on parts of our tax system that have been shrouded in secrecy under this government.

– Ed Miliband, labour leader

Miliband: Government 'shrugged its shoulders on tax avoidance'

Ed Miliband addresses delegates at the Welsh Labour Party Conference.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused the Government of "shrugging its shoulders on tax avoidance".

He said there was "one rule for the rich and powerful and another rule for everyone else" and criticised the "hugely complex ... tax schemes often based offshore" that he says has cost the nation's finances £34 billion.

360,000 people scramble to meet tax return deadline

Hundreds of thousands of people rushed to meet the tax return deadline. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Nearly 360,000 people have filed self-assessment tax returns in a last-minute rush to meet the deadline.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said the forms were received between midnight and 9pm on Saturday and almost 10.2 million had been filed in total.

The deadline for submitting an online self-assessment tax return and paying any tax due was midnight on Saturday 31st January.

Those in self-assessment who fail to meet this face an initial fixed penalty of £100, even if there is no tax to pay, plus interest on any tax not paid by the due date.

All tax returns which are still outstanding must be submitted online, as the deadline for filing paper returns passed on 31st October last year.

On last year's deadline day, 557,000 people scrambled to get their returns in online.

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