Treasury minister David Gauke has reached into his inside breast pocket and revealed the arsenal of weaponry the government will use in tackling tax loopholes. By obliterating these legislative oversights, the exchequer hopes to raise an extra £2bn over the next five years.
So, how will they do it?
* With immediate effect, companies will no longer be able to use intra-group loans or derivatives to lower their tax bill.
* At next year’s Budget, measures will be taken to clamp down on disguised employment – the situation whereby contractors are used in roles which could, and theoretically should, be done by full-time employees. The result being less tax-paying responsibilities.
* The Government will tackle the practice of investment companies retrospectively changing the currency used in their accounts to lower tax – at the next Budget
* The Government will look to stop businesses from splitting the supply of services to avoid VAT. Once again, at the next Budget. Not for the first time, Chancellor George Osbourne will have a lot to say.
Official statistics released last year revealed the extent to which the non-payment of tax had dramatically increased. Apparently the cost of avoidance, evasion and other problems rose by £4bn to £42bn in the year 2008-2009. Some campaigners regard this as an underestimate.
Another possible method of ensuring that taxes are paid in full is by putting in place a GAAR (General Anti-Avoidance Rule), something that the Treasury is looking into. In a written statement, Exchequer Secretary David Gauke had the following to say:
“I am setting in train a study programme to establish whether a GAAR could be framed to meet the objectives of deterring and countering tax avoidance in a fair way, while providing certainty, retaining a tax regime that is attractive to business and minimising compliance costs for businesses and HMRC and, if so, how the provisions of the GAAR might be framed.”
All of this serves to underline how increasingly important it ise ensure that your tax status is not just within the law, but within the spirit of the law. This makes it crucial that to employ the services of an expert accountant – and not some cowboy tax adviser. Here at Crunch online accounting, our chief accountant Steve Crouch is ex-HMRC and has detailed knowledge of laws such as IR35.