There is general enthusiasm for exposing tax avoidance schemes, and trying to get more people and companies to pay their “fair share” of tax. The PAC has said we should shame tax dodgers.
Those in Parliament keenest on this approach should recognise that the prime source of tax avoidance schemes in the UK is the UK government. It is the laws approved by Parliament. Should they then shame themselves?
The main ways the better off who live and are taxed in the UK avoid tax include
Pension contributions – paid out of gross income
Pension fund investment income and capital gains – tax free whilst in the fund
ISAs and Junior ISAs – offering tax avoidance on all income and gains on the investments
National Savings – they offer a wide range of tax avoidance products which are very popular
The opportunity to give money and property away to others more than 7 years before death to avoid IHT
The opportunity to give money to charity free of tax
Living on expenses when away on company or government business, free of tax on these
Which of these do the anti tax avoiders think we should abolish? Do they agree that means of tax avoidance can be stopped if Parliament enacts a law to stop a particular way of avoiding tax – subject to people still staying in the country to pay it?
The problem with trying to get international companies to pay their fair share, as the Chancellor acknowledged in his recent statements, is the competing national jurisdictions around the world bidding for more of a company’s business by lowering their tax rates. That, after all, is what the Chancellor is doing by cutting the UK Corporation Tax rate from 28% to 21%. He is right to think that a company will undertake more of their profitable activities here if the tax rate is lower than elsewhere.