Editor | 23 February 2016
Taxman collects £2 billion from tax avoiders, but Google won’t budge

Taxman collects £2 billion from tax avoiders, but Google won’t budge

HMRC has collected more than £2 billion from users of tax avoidance schemes since new government rules were introduced in 2014.

Previously, tax avoiders were able to gain a financial advantage because they could hold onto disputed monies while HMRC carried out its investigations. Since 2014, the introduction of Accelerated Payments notices mean that tax avoidance scheme users have to pay the money up-front.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said: “We will not tolerate tax avoidance and Accelerated Payments has been a real game changer.

“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.

“It should be absolutely clear to anyone who is tempted by these schemes that tax-avoidance does not pay.”

Unfortunately, success in this tax avoidance case has not been matched in the row over Google’s tax bill.

The Public Accounts Committee launched an inquiry after a £130 million deal was reached between Google and HMRC for ten years of back paid taxes. The payment was described as a “major victory” by the Chancellor George Osborne but dismissed as a raw deal by others.

The committee enquiry got off to a rocky start on the 11th of February when Google executive’s claimed to be fully compliant with UK law.

Appearing before MPs, Google’s Vice President of Finance Tom Hutchinson, claimed that the deal reached with the UK tax authority was the largest settlement paid to a government outside the United States.

“We are paying the right amount of taxes,” Mr Hutchinson said.

His defence was echoed by Matt Brittin, Google’s Head of Operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We’re paying the tax bill the taxman has told us to pay in the UK,” he said. 

Neil Armitage, Operations Director at Cloudaccountant.co.uk, said: “Taxpayers will be pleased to hear about the clampdown on tax avoidance schemes. But I don’t think public confidence will return to the taxman until he stands up to the likes of Google and the other multinational mega firms who seem to think that the same rules don’t apply to them.

“Many of these companies have been allowed to dominate the internet and the high streets simply because they have lower tax obligations compared to hard working SME's who often feel unfairly targeted. I think it is about time somebody took steps to level the playing field.”

Further information: Cloudaccountant.co.uk / Bollin House, Bollin Link, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 1DP. Tel: 0808 281 0303