Steve Gee

Liberal Democrat Candidate for Epsom & Ewell

  • Steve Gee

    I am your Liberal Democrat Candidate for the General Election.

    This blog gives you my views on current political issues.

    It also covers some Lib Dem
    policies that I think are particularly important.

    Steve

  • Contact Details:

    98 Nork Way,
    Banstead,
    Surrey SM7 1HP.
    01737 362810
    steve@steve4epsom.com

  • Administration

  • Published and promoted by Derek Harwood on behalf of Stephen Gee and the Epsom & Ewell Liberal Democrats all at 38 West Farm Close, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 2LJ.

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The HSBC Tax Scandal

Posted by Steve Gee on Monday 16 February 2015

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Steve Gee

It is a disgrace that so many big companies are avoiding paying tax in the countries in which they earn income and this has a real effect in times of austerity on the level of cuts in benefits that the poorest in society have had to bear.

It is a great social injustice and something that has to be tackled if we are to create a fairer society. As a party we have just made proposals to raise £8bn of taxes in the next parliament which will include only raising it from the wealthiest in society and from companies that aren’t paying their fair share. So our proposals are fully in line with a principle of eliminating Tax Dodging as we move forward.

I was shocked to hear media reports claiming that HSBC helped thousands of wealthy clients avoid tax from countries all over the world and that members of the Tory party seem to think that this isn’t an issue but just what “everyone does”.

Since 2010, the Government has closed many of the loopholes exposed in the report and specifically taken action to get back money lost in Swiss bank accounts. HMRC has systematically worked through all the HSBC data that it has received and has brought in more than £135m in tax, interest and penalties from tax evaders who hid assets in Swiss HSBC accounts. But there is still much more to do.

Danny Alexander

That is why I’m pleased that Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has made tackling tax avoidance a top priority and has made progress on many of the issues you raise. Since coming into Government in 2010 he has led a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion that is closing loopholes and making more people pay up.

Liberal Democrats in Government have already made over forty changes to the law to close loopholes and make big strategic changes to the way tax is collected to ensure fewer people slip through the net.

The changes we have made include:

  1. the introduction of a General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR);
  2. strengthening the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime;
  3. introducing a tougher monitoring regime and penalties for high-risk promoters of tax avoidance schemes;
  4. giving Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) the power to collect disputed tax bills up front (thus removing the incentive for tax avoiders to delay and frustrate HMRC’s efforts to settle disputes);
  5. clamping down on Stamp Duty tax avoidance with a new range of measures.

Another big change was to invest almost £1bn in HMRC to tackle tax avoidance, recruiting 2,500 extra members of staff to work on tackling tax avoidance and opening a new Large Business Directorate last year to deal specifically with the tax affairs of the 2,100 largest firms in the UK. Part of their work will be to enforce the new Diverted Profits Tax, which will counter the use of aggressive tax planning methods used by some big firms to divert their profits to areas with very low rates of tax. We hope this tax will yield an extra £1.35bn over the next five years.

I am also pleased that we have worked internationally to tackle tax avoidance and that this was one of the main goals of the UK’s presidency of the G8 group of nations.

During our presidency, we won G8 agreement on transparency on the real owners of businesses, as well as getting the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to develop a country-by-country reporting template for multinationals to report profit and tax information. Over 90 countries are signed up to the new International Comprehensive Report Standards, closing down options for tax cheats, while around £2bn in previously unpaid tax has been brought in from our new agreements with Switzerland and Lichtenstein alone.

There is clearly much more to do at home and abroad, but I am proud of the work that Liberal Democrats have done in Government to close loopholes and force tax cheats to pay more of their fair share. Thanks to the steps we have taken, the tax yield for this year will be around £9bn more than when we came into Government in 2010.

Going forward, Liberal Democrats are determined not to let up in the fight against tax cheats. If we are in Government again our aim is to make progress on this agenda in every Budget and Autumn Statement of the next Parliament. We will continue to invest in HMRC, as we have done in Government, to enable them to do more to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. We will also introduce a range of other measures, including a General Anti-Avoidance Rule, which goes much further than the current anti-abuse rule. We will seek to extend the requirement for country-by-country reporting from banks and extractive industries to cover all UK listed companies.

The majority of these proposals will be introduced through the annual Finance Bill, allowing us to take regular action throughout the Parliament.

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