Clause 71 - Review of DST

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 1st July 2020.

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Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton 3:45 pm, 1st July 2020

My hon. Friend makes a very good point. We have some very good people here in our tax authorities and in our ministerial team. The difficulty is, of course, that those companies have some very good advisers working for them, too. It is a case of “Catch me if you can”. That is why the Government have stepped in with a diverted profits tax and a digital services tax, neither of which existed before 2010. The Government have stepped forward to try to do this, but it is certainly not easy.

From the figures, Google should be contributing £420 million to the Exchequer. Of course, much of that money would have previously gone to the Exchequer through some of our own companies, but they no longer get that revenue. Regional media is a good example of that. As businesses, we used to spend our money in regional newspapers and regional radio. Now we put that money straight into Google and Facebook and other such places, so it is being shifted away from UK jobs and UK businesses and spirited away to different parts of the world.

I know the Minister will say that we are working with the OECD in terms of base erosion profit shifting, which is absolutely right. The difficulty, of course, is the lack of public scrutiny of that. That information is available only to tax authorities. The media play a hugely important role in highlighting the inappropriate shifting of profits internationally by companies, which therefore do not pay their fair share of tax. It is hugely important that we have publicly disclosed country-by-country reporting.

I very much support new clause 33. I hope that the Government will step forward with something similar in the very near future. The digital service tax is a great step forward and a very bold move in the teeth of international opposition, particularly from the USA, but it is a short-term measure. We need something much more important and much more fundamental. At a very minimum, that fundamental thing should be country-by-country reporting and I urge the Government to go further, continue with their great efforts to tackle tax avoidance, and bring in country-by-country reporting for all multinationals.