Foreign firms owe British taxman £5.5bn: report

Foreign companies in Britain owe around £5.5 billion in taxes, figures unearthed by The Times newspaper showed Saturday.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the tax-collecting body, has identified 258 big multi-national firms thought to have outstanding tax bills amounting to that sum, the daily said.

According to figures the newspaper obtained under Britain's freedom of information laws, British businesses owned by foreign parent firms made up 44 percent of all potential tax lost through underpayments by the kingdom's largest companies.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs parliament's Public Accounts Committee cross-party scrutiny body, told The Times: "Over the past few months there has been growing anger at what is seen to be unfairness in the tax system.

"If you're rich, you get away with tax avoidance, and if you're an ordinary person, you pay your fair share."

HMRC chief executive Lin Homer is to be questioned by the committee on Monday.

In total, some 551 British and foreign big firms are thought to owe HMRC at total of £12.5 billion (15.6 billion euros, $20 billion) in tax.

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