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Tax Avoidance and Evasion

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:44 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 12:44 pm, 25th February 2020

I want to pay tribute to a number of my colleagues in this House who have consistently raised this issue, and my hon. Friend is one of them. When we had the debate very early on—in, I think, 2012 or 2013—a number of hon. Members, including my hon. Friend, started describing what was taking place as tax avoidance on an industrial scale. That is exactly what has happened, and it has not got better; it has got worse consistently.

At the moment, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is saying that the tax gap is about £35 billion, and it defines that as the difference between its estimate of the tax that should be paid and what is paid. But we know, and HMRC accepts this, that that does not include many of the abuses of corporate profit shifting, and HMRC acknowledges

“many sources of uncertainty and potential error” in its own calculations. So other experts have suggested—this is the point my hon. Friend is making—that the tax gap could be as high as £90 billion overall. So let us look at who we know is not paying their taxes.