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Taxation: Avoidance

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Dykes Lord Dykes Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are planning in addition to their campaign to ensure that tax avoidance and evasion by high-income groups is reduced.

Photo of Lord Sassoon Lord Sassoon The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury

This Government are committed to tackling avoidance wherever it occurs and will be building in sustainable defences against avoidance opportunities when undertaking policy reform. We announced a number of changes on 6 December 2010 to tackle specific tax avoidance risks and are reviewing areas of the tax system in which repeated changes have been necessary to close loopholes. We have also commissioned a study, led by Graham Aaronson QC, to examine the case for developing a General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) for the UK.

Alongside this we will continue to use intelligence obtained from the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes regime and other sources to detect avoidance schemes early and we will challenge avoidance robustly where we find it.

We are also investing £900 million over the spending review period to transform HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) work against avoidance, evasion and criminal attack This includes a more robust criminal deterrent against tax evasion-HMRC will increase the number of criminal prosecutions fivefold-and a crackdown on offshore evasion with the creation of a new dedicated team of investigators to catch those hiding money offshore.

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