As I write this, polling stations are starting to close, on what will be an historic day for the United Kingdom. A day where my constituents and the rest of the country cast their vote on the future of our membership of the European Union. In the absence of a result at the time of printing, I wanted to take this opportunity to draw my constituents’ attention to an amendment I will be supporting in the House next week as the dust settles following the EU referendum and as the Finance Bill reaches Committee stage.
As many of you will know, I am a member of the Public Accounts Committee, co-Chair of the Anti-Corruption All Party Parliamentary Group and a former tax adviser and I believe that greater tax transparency is the best way to ensure companies pay their fair share of tax and restore public confidence in the system. Following a number of high profile tax deals between HMRC and multinational companies, public confidence is quite rightly very low, and the Government needs to go much further to re-establish confidence in the tax system. I strongly believe that the tax system should work in the same way for multinational companies as it does for you and I.
To support efforts to do this, I will be voting to support Caroline Flint MP’s amendment to the Finance Bill on Tuesday, known at the #showmethemoney amendment, which would introduce public country-by-country reporting. This amendment will force the biggest multinationals to publish headline information about their profits and taxes in the countries they work in, allowing the public to scrutinise this information and hold companies to account over their tax affairs.
Far from being a burden, this information is good for businesses – many companies already publish this information and this amendment would help to create a level playing field for UK businesses, who don’t shift their profits around the world to avoid paying tax.
This Government has a proud track record in this area, helping to increase tax transparency around the world, however, whilst the Prime Minister is committed to increasing tax transparency alongside the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the EU is dragging its feet. This amendment calls for the UK Government to take the lead on this issue and stop waiting around for the EU to introduce measures to tackle multinational tax avoidance.
I know from my inbox and postbag that my constituents are rightly concerned about the level of tax multinational companies pay, following recent multinational scandals, I can’t say I blame them. That’s why I’m committed to ensuring this Government leads from the front on this issue, seizing this opportunity to act on the appetite for change by making meaningful progress, which if successful this amendment will go a long towards achieving.
If you’d like to find out more about the amendment or the Finance Bill itself please contact my office either by email – firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7219 7233.