Reduction of relief in cases where losses relieved sideways etc

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 16 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 9:25, 16 Ionawr 2018

I thank the hon. Lady for her characteristically thorough dissection of the clause. She gave us something of a history lesson about double taxation agreements going back to the 1920s, before we came into the era of the OECD and more recent activities.

This is not directly relevant to the clause, but the hon. Lady mentioned the tax gap and the veracity or otherwise of the figure for it. The figure is produced by HMRC on an annual basis and audited by the National Audit Office. It is a statistic described by the International Monetary Fund as one of the most robust of its kind in the world. We are very proud of the fact that we have, at 6%, one of the lowest tax gaps in our history.

Interestingly, the hon. Lady introduced the subject of the movement of losses out of branches overseas by way of a discussion of the profits under the banking arrangements, and the shifting from banking to non-banking entities as an approach to avoiding tax. That approach, which certain corporations have taken to avoid tax, is long-established and lies at the heart of the measures that we, the OECD and others have been pursuing to clamp down on avoidance.

This measure is very important. As I described, overseas entities with branches are able to move losses into other overseas entities and claim a tax benefit there, but equally gain a double tax benefit with the UK authorities by way of double tax relief and the impact of the losses on profits that would otherwise fall to corporation tax. We do not believe that the review that new clause 13 calls for is necessary, largely for the reasons I gave in my opening remarks, and in particular because we keep all these measures under review. Indeed, the measures are a product of a review of earlier approaches to clamping down on avoidance, evasion and non-compliance.

The hon. Lady raised several questions that I will attempt to address. The first was whether we had considered the US model and focusing more on entities, which is an interesting point. I would be interested to take any representation from her, and to look at that in more detail with my officials. I do not have a comprehensive answer to her point at the moment, but my door is open for us to look at that in greater detail.

The hon. Lady also mentioned the operation of counteraction notices. As she recognised, the main thrust of the changes to the TAAR is to ensure we do not end up in a situation in which one might reasonably expect HMRC not to understand that something untoward was going on, and in which, by the time it came to the activity, it was out of time. That is the critical point. Once again, if there are further issues of a more detailed or granular nature that the hon. Lady would like to raise with me, I would be very happy indeed to have a look at those. On that basis, I hope we can accept the clause.