Double taxation arrangements specified by Order in Council

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:00 am ar 16 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Minister (Treasury) 10:00, 16 Ionawr 2018

I am grateful to the Minister for those enormously helpful clarifications. I was particularly pleased to hear his commitment to ensuring that the draft affirmative statutory instrument will be tabled in the House and that we will have a proper chance to debate it. As part of that discussion, I would urge him to ensure that additional information is provided on the Government’s reasoning around adopting a number of the provisions that are within the OECD but not the UN approach.

I fully accept that the OECD approach is supported by a large number of countries; that is absolutely right. None the less, as the Minister himself stated, there are then choices to be made by signatories to the MLI about how to interpret different elements. Those choices can make that approach either more like the UN’s or more like traditionally the OECD’s.

As the Minister said, mandatory binding arbitration is an approach that countries can decide to adopt or otherwise. It was positive to hear that that will be adopted only when both countries, as signatories to a double tax treaty, wish to adopt it. I am interested to know, first, on what basis we have already chosen to adopt mandatory binding arbitration or otherwise. I would again point to the inconsistency between the tax treaty agreed last week on Lesotho, and that which was proposed, albeit not yet discussed, around Kyrgyzstan, which seem to have very different approaches to mandatory binding arbitration. Why is there that difference?

Secondly, it would be helpful for us to assess the claim that mandatory binding arbitration promotes certainty and the ability to tax appropriately for all countries if we saw what some of the outcomes from existing cases subject to mandatory binding arbitration have been, particularly for our country’s ability to retain the revenue that is its due. I have not yet seen that kind of consolidated examination of outcomes from mandatory binding arbitration, and it would be very useful for us to have that in relation to our country and the impacts on our ability to collect revenue, and for developing countries as well. We need that before we can assess whether we want to adopt this in a more wholesale manner. The Minister is absolutely correct to say that we already have it in operation—I mentioned that before—but we need to have more detail.

One final point—I am sorry, but I managed to miss this in my previous remarks—is that it would be helpful for us to understand what transatlantic discussions the UK has been having with the US around the adoption of the MLI. It has not yet adopted the MLI and, sadly, some elements within the US have resisted the OECD’s action in this area—a lot of the time for totally unnecessary, politicised reasons—but it would be useful to know whether the US is likely to adopt this approach. That is because when we talk about double taxation, much of the time we will be talking about multinational companies that have the US as their host country or source country, and when those companies then conduct operations in the UK we need to be able to know that we can protect revenue from them.