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Tax Gap

Volume 597: debated on Tuesday 16 June 2015

Since 2010, the percentage tax gap has stayed lower than at any point under the previous Labour Government, saving the country £4 billion. One way in which the Government will address the tax gap is by tackling tax avoidance and evasion. We have committed to raising at least £5 billion more from measures to tackle evasion, avoidance and aggressive planning within the tax system, and we will announce further details at the Budget.

Last year, Caffé Nero managed to make £20 million of profit and pay not one single penny in corporation tax, unlike many hard-pressed local businesses, such as dairy farmers. Does my hon. Friend agree that we might need to look at the rules on tax deductable interest payments and, in the meantime, support coffee chains that pay into the system and support their local businesses?

As my hon. Friend will be aware, Treasury Ministers do not discuss individual cases, but I can say that the Government are determined to ensure we have a competitive tax regime in which everyone plays by the rules and pays their fair share. We have been involved in a number of crackdowns on tax avoidance, both domestically and internationally, with the OECD base erosion and profit shifting projects, and we continue to work hard on that.

Well, it seems that the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies) does not have a lot of confidence in the measures being laid out by Ministers. Never mind percentages: the tax gap has increased to £34 billion. The US-Swiss tax deal raised £800 million in 2013, not the forecast £3.2 billion. Despite these failings, the Minister has just mentioned the manifesto promise to raise a further £5 billion. Will he start to tell us how he will do that? He has not even brought in tougher penalties on the general anti-avoidance rule.

The hon. Lady mentions the general anti-avoidance rule. As we have made clear, we are introducing specific penalties for tax avoidance.

In the last Parliament, HMRC’s yield rose from £17 billion to £26 billion a year, and, as I have said, the tax gap as a percentage has been lower in every year under us than it was in any year under the Labour Government. In the Budget, we will set out further details of how we will raise more revenue by dealing with tax evasion, tax avoidance, and aggressive tax planning.