Today was the first day of debate on the Finance Bill - or what most of us call the Budget. It is the bill that sets the taxes and tax law which the Chancellor set out before Easter. See here.
I spoke about how we need to take strong action against tax avoidance by big business. At a time when so many people find it so hard to get by, it is more important than ever that big business pays its fair share of tax.
I spoke up for the need to reform our tax law fundamentally. To make sure that tax on profits from business carried out in the UK is paid. We need to make it clear that it is not acceptable that Amazon, Apple, Google and all these huge multinational companies pay their fair share.
Some excerpts are below with the Ministerial responses.
It is incredibly important that the Government are reducing the rate of corporation tax. That is great news for British business. However, British business pays corporation tax. Should not we take proper action against multinationals that rip off our country and do not pay proper taxes, and ensure that they pay a fair share of tax, like every British business, so that we have a level tax playing field for all companies?
My hon. Friend is right that we must deal with tax avoidance by companies, and there are a number of measures in the Bill that are precisely aimed at ensuring that businesses pay their fair share of tax, which I am sure he would wish to support. Furthermore, through clause 180, we are introducing vital reforms to the controlled foreign companies rules, and, through clause 19, a patent box to allow UK businesses to operate in an ever-more globalised world. Hopefully, we will encourage some of the businesses to which he refers to return to the UK. The latter measure has already secured a major investment in this country by a major chemicals company.
Our job is to secure our own tax base in the UK. That is what I want to focus on, and it is what the previous Government totally failed to do over many, many years. If we put a stop to it and raise the due amount of tax from companies not resident in the UK with anti-avoidance measures and proper tax reform, we could have lower fuel duties for hard-pressed families and a lower basic rate of tax—and goodness knows we could even pay down some more of the debt that the previous Government shockingly, disgracefully saddled this country with.
I hope that the anti-avoidance measures in the Bill will be widened in the following way: the first principle is that business tax rates should be low, simple and attractive. Britain should be open for business, but open for business on a level playing field for national and international companies. Businesses should have a social responsibility to pay a fair share of tax. Some object to the idea of morality in the tax system, but this is an issue of corporate social responsibility. Tax avoidance should be dealt with firmly and rules changed to stop the avoidance.
For the full debate see here.
As a former tax lawyer I know how tax reform works and know the reform we need. It's not right that people should be facing rising taxes, suffering from the cost of fuel and cost of everything while some big international businesses have an effective tax rate of less than 1%. The system needs reform to bring fairness and social justice. I am fighting to see that happens.
It has been an honour and privilege to serve as Member of Parliament for Dover & Deal. I hope to be re-elected to serve our community for another term.
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