The North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce is backing the call for a simpler business tax to eliminate the possibility of tax avoidance schemes.
On the day that the Public Accounts Committee takes evidence on corporate tax deals, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is urging the government to make it harder for companies to utilise such outlets as a way of avoiding their full tax commitment.
The BCC is demanding immediate action on three fronts:
- A wholesale simplification of business tax to eliminate the loopholes that give rise to tax avoidance schemes
- HMRC enforcement activity to concentrate on aggressive tax avoidance, and not punish those who make unintended mistakes
- Push for swift international action to stop a minority of companies shift profits across the globe in aggressive avoidance schemes
“The rules should be the same for everyone, from the smallest operation to large multinational companies,” said Chamber chief executive Babs Murphy.
“It is clearly unfair that some companies are using loopholes to avoid paying their due taxes while others are doing everything by the book.
“Something has to be done to prevent this situation from happening time and again.”
Multinational firms’ corporation tax payments have become an increasingly controversial subject.
Some global brands have capitalised on loopholes to pay only a fraction in tax on multi-million pound sales and revenue figures.
“All businesses with operations in Britain have an obligation to pay the full tax due on profits from their activities in this country,” said John Longworth, the BCC’s director general.
“There is great anger amongst many companies on this issue. Most businesses see large-scale tax avoidance by major corporates, and particularly large multinationals, as unfair competition that undermines the implicit contract between business and society.
“The government has made some strides through engagement with the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) process at international level, which have given multi-national corporations food for thought.
“Closer to home, ministers must embark on a wholesale simplification of business tax to eliminate the loopholes that give rise to tax avoidance schemes. The Business Tax Roadmap is due to be published soon, and we hope this makes it easier for businesses to navigate the UK’s fiendishly complex tax system.
“Until these reforms are realised, all companies with substantial undertakings in the UK should demonstrate their clear commitment to paying the profit taxes due here. Other firms, and the general public, can see through the artifice of creative accounting – and their anger is growing.”