PAC member Mitchell to assemble group to apply for GAAR panel posts

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE MEMBER Austin Mitchell has announced he intends to assemble a group of “independent experts” to apply for posts on the General Anti-Abuse Rule advisory panel.

The legislation, designed to prevent contrived tax avoidance schemes, was included in the 2013 Finance Bill and will take effect once it has received Royal Assent in the summer.

HM Revenue & Customs is currently taking applications for positions on the eight-strong panel, to be chaired by former partner and head of tax at law firm Allen & Overy Patrick Mears. The positions are voluntary, and initial appointments are to last for three years, subject to review.

In his announcement, Mitchell (pictured) put forward Labour MPs Kelvin Hopkins and John MacDonnell, former Labour MP Jim Cousins, professor of economics at Essex University Prem Sikka, and Tax Justice Network campaigner Richard Murphy. He also urged Mears “not to appoint anyone from the tax avoidance industry”.

He added: “This legislation has been drawn up by the tax avoidance industry the intention is to cram it with people from that industry who will be judge and jury in their own cases. I’m sure the Big Four accountancy firms and large multinational corporations will be only too willing to have staff seconded to this committee.”

His comments come as the PAC has called for a “full investigation” into the tax affairs of global search engine Google.

In a report released today, the committee described Google’s claims that it drums up business in the UK before concluding deals in Ireland as “deeply unconvincing”.

It also stated HMRC “has not been sufficiently challenging of multinationals’ manifestly artificial tax structures”.

Google denies any wrongdoing.

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