Anti-avoidance

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2:15 pm, 11th June 2020

We have no substantial issue with these clauses, and obviously we welcome the inclusion of an anti-avoidance provision. As has been evident throughout the course of the discussions in Committee on this section of the Bill, it is a complex area, and we know that many large digital companies use intricate methods with considerable skill in order to reduce their tax liability. I mentioned earlier that some stakeholders have referred to the need for extra capacity at HMRC to make sure that this tax is properly administered and its impact properly accounted for. How confident is the Minister that anti-avoidance strategies will be adequately detected when the overall difficulties in administering the tax are taken into consideration?

Moreover, the Government’s website states that HMRC must counteract such arrangements by making such adjustments as are just and reasonable. The Minister touched on this in some of our earlier discussions, but I would be grateful if he could elaborate on exactly what a just and reasonable adjustment for tax avoidance arrangements entails. As I have already set out earlier today and in other debates we have had, the scale of tax avoidance practices by digital multinational enterprises is large and the methods that they adopt are intricate. The Government’s record so far in this area does not inspire a great deal of confidence on the Opposition Benches, and I would be grateful if the Minister could allay some of our concerns in this area.