By Marcus Leach

Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have stressed that they want to do more to stop big companies avoiding paying taxes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said he hoped there would be progress on an "anti-avoidance" tax rule in the Budget on 21 March.

This development has been partly sparked by comments in December criticising 'cosy' deals between HM Revenue and Customs and big businesses.

According to the Commons committee there is £25bn of outstanding tax potentially owed by big companies.

However, both the HMRC and government were quick to deny claims of 'cosy' relationships.

"With the large companies, that have the fancy corporate lawyers and the rest of it, I think we need a tougher approach," said Mr Cameron.

"One of the things that we are going to be looking at this year is whether there should be a general anti-avoidance power that HMRC can use, particularly with very wealthy individuals and with the bigger companies, to make sure they pay their fair share."

Meanwhile Mr Clegg said he wanted to see a "general anti-avoidance rule" to stop people "abusing" the system.

"I very much hope, and I'm not going to write [Chancellor] George Osborne's budget, we can make progress on that in the budget because we have got to make sure the tax system is fair and is seen to be fair," he said.

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