While the UK tax system can nearly always be described as being in a state of
flux, the level of transformation we have seen in recent years, and are still
experiencing, is something entirely different.
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HM Revenue & Customs is in the middle of a huge tax grab as it proceeds
with its incessant clampdown on any form of tax avoidance, blurring the line
between criminal evasion and aggressive tax planning.
On the other side of the coin, HMRC is trying its best to improve the much
criticised service it provides to business and maintain the UK’s position as a
tax-advantageous location for companies to operate out of. The recent
announcement by Gordon Brown in almost certainly his last Budget of a cut in
corporation tax to 28% may help HMRC part of the way in achieving this goal but
it may not tip the scales.
The problem is that much tax law is now decided outside these shores, with
the European Court of Justice playing just as much of an active role as a
lawmaker. Six huge challenges to the UK’s tax rules could, if approved by the
ECJ, cost the UK government billions of pounds in lost revenue. It is fighting
hard to prevent that happening, but victories on this battlefield have so far
been few and far between.
All of which has left many companies in an uncertain position. Is there an
alternative outside these shores that might be worth their exploring? And what
else can they do to reduce their tax liability without putting HMRC’s nose out
of joint in the process?
This briefing will help you read the complex tax map that is unfolding in the
UK. It will point to the major landmarks on the ever shifting landscape to help
you get your bearings and mark out the potential pitfalls as well as the points
of opportunity. It may not make everything plain sailing, but it should help you
navigate through some treacherous waters.
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