Tax Avoidance (HSBC)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 9th February 2015.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 3:34 pm, 9th February 2015

The essence of the charge is that not enough has been done to address tax evasion or tax avoidance, but the reality is that this Government have consistently cleared up the mess that we inherited. It was the case that wealthy people could avoid paying stamp duty land tax—we have sorted that problem. It used to be the case that aggressive tax avoidance schemes were prevalent, meaning that people could sit on the cash for years while cases dragged through the courts—that has now been addressed through accelerated payments. It used to be the case that remuneration could be disguised through loans and other instruments and that no income tax would be paid—we have fixed that, although the Labour party voted against it.

This Government have enabled HMRC to increase yields from £17 billion in 2010 to £26 billion this year, which is dramatic progress. Just as we have dealt with tax avoidance, we are dealing with tax evasion—we are seeing progress on the exchange of information—and that is a very big improvement on everything we inherited.