Banking companies: excluded entities

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 am ar 5 Gorffennaf 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 9:45, 5 Gorffennaf 2016

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her support for clauses 52 and 53, which will ensure that the exceptional tax treatment of banks’ crisis-related losses is maintained in the light of the wider changes to the UK loss relief regime announced in the Budget. They will also amend the definition of a bank used in tax legislation to ensure that bank-specific tax measures are targeted as intended.

Clause 52 will change the definition of an investment bank to ensure that legislation is appropriately targeted. We have been clear that banks should make a fair contribution to reflect the risks they pose to the UK economy, and we have taken several steps to ensure that they do make that contribution. The Chancellor introduced the bank levy—a tax on banks’ balance sheets—in 2011 and removed tax relief for banks’ compensation in relation to misconduct and mis-selling from July 2015. We restricted the amount of profit that banks can offset with historical corporation tax losses, and we introduced a new supplementary tax of 8% on banking sector profit from 1 January 2016.

Those policies, which are forecast to raise more than £28 billion between 2015 and 2021, rely on there being an appropriate definition in tax legislation of a bank. That definition is based broadly on the extent to which a company is regulated and the nature of the activities that it undertakes. Concerns have been raised that the existing definition has the potential to go further than intended and bring into scope companies that are not undertaking retail or investment banking activities. We seek to address that through clause 52, which will make a minor technical change that is expected to have a negligible cost to the Exchequer and will ensure that legislation is fair and appropriately targeted. The clause will ensure that banking taxes are targeted appropriately at banks and that legislation remains simple, certain and effective.

Clause 53 will reduce from 50% to 25% the amount of profit that banks can offset with historical losses for corporation tax purposes from 1 April 2016. When a company makes a loss for corporation tax purposes, it is able to offset that loss against the profit of a group member in the same year. If that is not possible, companies are able to carry forward their losses and offset them against future profits. Companies’ ability to carry forward losses is an important feature of the corporation tax system. It means that companies with volatile income streams are not subject to higher effective rates of tax on their long-term profits. In the 2014 autumn statement, the Chancellor announced that the proportion of taxable profit that could be offset by banks’ pre-April 2015 losses would be limited to 50% from 1 April 2015. That exceptional treatment recognised the significant losses that banks had carried forward from the financial crisis and the subsequent misconduct scandals, and the impact that those losses were having on banks’ corporation tax payments. It was forecast to increase corporation tax receipts by £2 billion between 2015 and 2020.

In the March 2016 Budget, fundamental reforms were announced to the treatment of carried-forward losses across all industry groups, to take effect from April 2017. First, there will be greater flexibility regarding the profits against which carried-forward losses can be offset. Secondly, the amount of profit that can be offset by carried-forward losses will be restricted to 50% from April 2017, subject to a £5 million allowance. Those reforms will create a more modern loss relief regime in the UK that is competitive with those in other G7 countries and better aligned with how businesses operate.

The changes made by clause 53 will maintain the exceptional treatment of banks’ historical losses by reducing from 50% to 25% the amount of profit that banks can offset with historical carried-forward losses from 1 April 2016. That will increase banks’ corporation tax payments by around £2 billion over the next five years. The existing reliefs for losses incurred by new entrant banks and building societies will be maintained; those will continue to be treated in the same way as losses in other industry groups.

On the hon. Lady’s question about timing, these measures, taken together, will raise about £5 billion in 2016-17 alone. It is important that the banking sector’s tax contribution is made when it is most needed during this period of fiscal consolidation. I take the point about the changed circumstances in the light of the vote to leave the European Union. It is also important that we make progress in reducing the deficit, and that we demonstrate that the Government are fiscally responsible. That is what we are doing. This measure is part of a plan to make progress to reduce our deficit further. Having given the Committee those points of information, I hope that these clauses can stand part of the Bill.