Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] — Tax Avoidance and Multinational Companies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:11 pm on 3rd February 2016.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 3:11 pm, 3rd February 2016

We have a very open and transparent arrangement for disclosure of meetings. I am very clear that when it comes to determining the tax liability of a company such as Google—or, indeed, any other taxpayer in this country—there is no ministerial involvement. HMRC is entirely operationally independent. There is no ministerial interference in such areas, and no suggestion that there would be. When it comes to determining the tax bill of any taxpayer, it is a matter of HMRC enforcing the law; it is not for ministerial involvement. HMRC introduced new governance arrangements for significant tax disputes in 2012 to provide even greater transparency, scrutiny and accountability. They included the appointment of a tax assurance commissioner to ensure that there is clear separation between those who negotiate and those who approve settlements. The tax assurance commissioner oversees the process and publishes an annual report on his work.

Let me absolutely clear. There are no sweetheart deals, and there is no special treatment for large businesses. HMRC resolves disputes by agreement only if the business agrees to pay the full amount of tax, penalties and interest. Otherwise, it is a matter for the courts—an arena in which HMRC has a strong track record of fighting and winning.