Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 16th March 2016
Chancellor George Osborne has said his government is aiming to have raised as much as £12 billion by the end of the current parliament by clamping down on tax avoidance.
Mr Osborne has repeatedly made commitments to reduce tax avoidance and has already introduced measures to that end such as the use of Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs), which demand early payment of disputed tax amounts.
Among the key targets of the chancellor’s latest efforts to deter and prevent tax avoidance are “personal service companies”, which are apparently being seen as vehicles through which individuals can provide services and generate profits while paying relatively little tax.
Another area of focus for the Treasury is disguised remuneration, a term used to describe certain forms of payment transference by employers to individuals in ways that aren’t always taxed as they should be from the government’s perspective.
“Public sector business will also gain a new duty to make sure that those working for them pay the correct tax,” the chancellor said during his first full Budget speech of the new parliament.
Osborne also announced plans to limit the extent to which companies making annual profits worth in excess of £5 million can offset historic losses and borrow money in the UK to fund activities elsewhere in the world.
The chancellor framed these measures as being part of a “roadmap to make Britain’s tax system fit for the future”.
“This will level the playing field tilted against our small firms,” he said.
In February of this year, HM Revenue & Customs announced that it had already collected more than £2 billion in disputed tax amounts via the use of APNs which were introduced in 2014.
These gains for the Treasury were presented as being a major win for taxpayers and part of an ongoing drive to reduce the scale of tax avoidance throughout the UK.
“We will not tolerate tax avoidance and Accelerated Payments has been a real game changer,” said David Guake, financial secretary to the Treasury.
“HMRC already wins the vast majority of cases that go to court and now HMRC has taken more than £2 billion from tax-avoiders who would have otherwise benefitted from that cash while they were being investigated.”