Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lib Dem MP Pushes Treasury To Tighten Tax Laws On Big Business

MP Julian Huppert has pushed the Treasury to tighten tax laws such as those which allowed Starbucks, Amazon and Vodafone to cut their tax bills by millions.

Julian raised the issue in the Commons yesterday (Tuesday, June 24) calling on the government to tackle laws including those covering transfer pricing which allows multinational companies to attribute their profits around the world to avoid corporation tax.

He said: “It is a huge frustration to people to see wealthy individuals and large companies avoid paying the taxes that they ought to be paying.”

Julian called on David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury to “make sure that our rules are fit for purpose”.

“Will he tackle, for example, transfer pricing and ensure that there is an international agreement that benefits Britain and means that people pay the correct amount of tax in this country?” he asked.

Mr Gauke said: “It is right that we address these issues and that we do so at an international level.

“Since 2010, the Government have been determined to support HMRC in improving overall compliance levels, tackling tax avoidance, evasion and fraud, and punishing those who break the rules. Overall we are investing about £1 billion in HMRC’s compliance activities, and HMRC achieved record levels of compliance revenues last year, securing £23.9 billion.”

He added that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development had been carrying out work on profit shifting and it was hoped that results of its work would be apparent this autumn.

Julian said later: “The Lib Dems have been pushing for a fairer tax system in this country so that everyone pays a fair share. People are fed up with huge corporations finding ways to minimise their tax bills using legal loopholes through a system that allows them to do so.

“I hope that through the work that is being done, that we will see real change so that Britain benefits from the profits these companies are making in our country.”

The full transcript of Julian’s questions and the replies read as follows:

5. Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): What steps he is taking to ensure that people pay the taxes for which they are liable.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): Since 2010, the Government have been determined to support HMRC in improving overall compliance levels, tackling tax avoidance, evasion and fraud, and punishing those who break the rules. Overall we are investing about £1 billion in HMRC’s compliance activities, and HMRC achieved record levels of compliance revenues last year, securing £23.9 billion.

Dr Huppert: It is a huge frustration to people to see wealthy individuals and large companies avoid paying the taxes that they ought to be paying. I thank the Minister for his comments, but will he go further to make sure that our rules are fit for purpose? Will he tackle, for example, transfer pricing, and ensure that there is an international agreement that benefits Britain and means that people pay the correct amount of tax in this country?

Mr Gauke: As the Chancellor made clear a moment ago, it is right that we address these issues, and that we do so at an international level. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s important work on base erosion and profit shifting is a consequence of the leadership shown by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, and we hope that we will see the fruits of that progress beginning this autumn.