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Taking Stock: Avoiding avoidance at Portcullis House

TS HAD THE PLEASURE of attending Portcullis House this week to witness a debate on international tax avoidance, organised by Milestone Tax.

With many of the tax world’s great and good – including Deloitte’s Bill Dodwell and HMRC’s John Whiting – in attendance, TS was pleased to see proceedings were overseen by Public Accounts Committee member and Conservative MP Guto Bebb, who was keen to hear the views of the debate’s participants.

It was unfortunate, then, that Bebb had to absent himself for a short while in order to vote on this year’s Finance Bill as it passes through parliament – ironically containing much-anticipated anti-avoidance legislation.

Voting completed, Bebb was able to return to his chair and continue with the debate, which – it is fair to say – was a lively affair.

Gray’s Inn Chambers QC David Goldberg in particular challenged what constitutes a “fair share” of tax, before observing: “There is either tax or no tax. There is no loophole or any place where tax should be but isn’t.”

Opposing, GMB Union’s Kamaljeet Jambu simply responded: “We are moral beings and constantly making judgments about right and wrong.”

TS, though, was slightly on edge throughout, sat as it was in seats usually reserved for witnesses called before the Public Accounts Committee.

Thankfully, Bebb stuck to his remit and refrained from subjecting TS to a cross-examination.

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