Corporate tax could give Brown the edge

Corporate tax could give Brown the edge

Some might call it unedifying. The sight of Chris Spooner, head of financial planning and tax at HSBC, drawing a line on the sand on how much tax corporates are willing to tolerate paying to UK authorities

This issue has been around for a while. There’s nothing particularly new in
complaints that the general burden of corporate tax – indeed even the tax
obligations for the very rich – are causing people to worry. Tax advisers and
politicians have complained for some time that the UK’s competitiveness may be
threatened by the volumes of money owed in tax to the Treasury.

The difference with Spooner is that this is a very big corporate breaking
cover to remind the UK government that companies like his could easily find a
home somewhere where the tax living is, shall we say, easier.

Spooner’s timing is interesting given that Gordon Brown, the man responsible
for the current burden of tax, is currently campaigning to become prime
minister.

Will Spooner’s comments make any difference? All on his own, no. But if
Spooner were just one of many voices the chancellor, or future prime minister,
would listen. Recently Sir Digby Jones claimed that if Brown listened to
business more he would win enormous amounts of support. The groundwork is there,
he merely needs to go a little further.

This isn’t to say that business should not pay its fair share. And it
wouldn’t threaten tax revenues. But if more companies do business here, then
quite simply the more tax that will be paid, and the Treasury coffers face few
risks.

So, while it may be tempting to see Spooner as having the same old moan,
about the same old, same old, there couldn’t be a better time to do it.

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