Treasury tight-lipped on business tax forum

Tax policy chiefs are looking to fast track the selection process for
membership of a business-government think tank so efforts can get under way to
hammer out a better tax regime for British businesses.

The high-level group has now become the key forum for establishing a new tax
regime for foreign profits.

The government’s proposals are due to be announced in July, with advisers
unclear as to whether a U-turn is in the offing.

The Treasury is keeping its cards close to its chest on its wish list for the
forum, but has said that companies are not waiting to be invited and have
already made approaches in a bid to try and secure membership.

‘The first meeting will happen at the earliest possible convenience for
members,’ a spokesman said.

‘We’ve had a high level of interest from a number of companies which are keen
to have a representative on the group. Membership will be made up of senior
representatives of multinationals.’

The CBI is also thought to have a berth on the panel.

The forum has been set up as part of moves to appease British companies after
leading businesses announced plans to shift their tax bases offshore to escape
the UK tax regime.

A further announcement on the make-up of the forum is expected to be rolled
out ‘within a couple of weeks’ time,’ a source added.

A host of companies this week suggested they might leave for tax reasons,
including WPP and Diageo.
Shire and United Business Media have already outlined plans to move to Ireland.

Cantor Alphabet, the betting firm, is offering odds of 3/1 on WPP being the
next firm to up sticks, with BP a surprise at just 4/1. HSBC, which has
suggested it could move in the past, is at 7/1, while Diageo is 6/1 to go first.

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