We’ve heard a lot recently from politicians talking tough on tax avoidance. But is it all hot air and posturing? It seems it could be.

A recent interview with Dave Hartnett, the permanent secretary for tax at HMRC, raised the possibility of a softer approach in settling tax disputes.

Talking to the Financial Times he referred to a ‘less combative approach’ that would bring an end to the current all or nothing method of reaching a settlement. Instead, there will be more of an emphasis on reaching an agreement with individuals.

He said: “HMRC is packed full of very intelligent people, but we are sometimes too black-and-white about the law.”

This raises the question, are HMRC going soft? Are they transforming into something rather more cuddly than we’re used to?

Well, the reason for this apparent change in tact comes as a result of a ‘logjam’ in pending court proceedings and a reduction in the resources available to them. Quite simply, a more conciliatory approach will be more cost-effective and time-efficient.

However, for those situations where HMRC know they have a strong case, they are willing to “fight to the death.”

So, perhaps not that cuddly!