MPs grapple with corporate tax avoidance
Accountant MP Nick Gibb laid into Amazon this week in the House of Commons as MPs debated corporate tax avoidance.
Twenty back benchers took part in the debate, which was brought to the house by Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales in response to “lurid stories of tax avoidance” in recent weeks. Swales called the issue “a threat to our political system” as those who paid their taxes would not continue to tolerate abuse.
“UK Uncut might be just the start of the protests,” he warned.
Conservative MP Richard Bacon agreed that the tax system was not fit for purpose, referring to Starbucks' “voluntary” CT payment over two years after mounting public pressure.
The idea that companies should pay corporation tax “because the mob has turned on them” was a bizarre way of arranging tax affairs, he said.
Labour MP Frank Field asked Bacon to explain that if governments are inactive on this front, what action would he propose taxpayers take?
Bacon replied: “Governments should take notice when they see outside 100 Parliament Street, the headquarters of HMRC, large crowds of riot police – there are photographs to that effect, which can easily be found on the web. When governments see such a thing happening, they should sit up and take notice that the system is not working and that it is not fit for purpose.”
Nick Gibb, former KPMG accountant and now Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, brought a more technical perspective to proceedings, but still gave little comfort to the multinational brands that appeared before the Commons Public Accounts Committee late last year.