HSBC: ‘we’ll quit UK over tax’

HSBC: 'we'll quit UK over tax'

HSBC, the global giant and the UK’s largest bank, urges the UK to develop a more competitive tax system or risk seeing it move abroad

The group’s head of financial planning and tax, Chris Spooner, issued the
warning at a Chartered Institute of Taxation conference in London. The bank is
the largest corporation to hint that it could quit the UK if avoidance
crackdowns and increasing complexity are not headed off.

‘A number of low tax jurisdictions have approached us. There has been nothing
tempting yet, but we have moved headquarters before and we are not scared to do
so again. The UK used to be a good place to be for purely tax reasons. I am not
sure if that is the case anymore,’ Spooner told the conference.

HSBC pays UK tax authorities close to $700m (£370.6m) in corporation tax
annually.

‘HSBC pays a large amount of tax and we are the ones who decide who gets it.
We take the competitive environment seriously and there are others like us,’
Spooner said.

HSBC relocated from Hong Kong to the UK in 1993. Several insurance companies
have recently dropped the UK for low tax jurisdictions, although regulation was
also a key reason for those moves.

Separately, HMRC director general Dave Hartnett praised UK businesses for
improving their relationship with the taxman.

‘The gap between HMRC and business is closing, but advisers are attempting to
force a wedge between the two,’ Hartnett said.

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