Tax

Panama, Cameron and tax returns

By Lord Ashcroft

It is the received wisdom that the leaking of the Panama Papers triggered the Prime Minister’s worst week since he took office. From his personal point of view, that may well be true: having the media trying to dig into your family’s tax arrangements is not a pleasant experience, as I can attest. But politically, how much has really changed since open season was declared on the Camerons’ financial affairs?

As so often, it is worth remembering that most people have better things to do than follow the minutiae of political coverage. Nothing very important gets past the voters, but they have a knack of getting straight to the point. The Cameron tax story, then, boils down to three essential elements. (more…)

A simple proposal to help the Treasury

By Lord Ashcroft

Over the last few weeks we have heard a good deal about the tiny amounts of corporation tax being paid in the UK by companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Google. Executives from all three were grilled by the Public Accounts Committee last month; others are sure to follow.

The problem, in a nutshell, is this. Overseas subsidiaries of global companies, incorporated in countries with lower tax rates, can charge royalties to fellow subsidiaries in the UK, or supply goods with a mark up, in order to channel profits between the two subsidiaries and therefore between countries. The effect is to reduce the profits of the part of the business based in Britain, and therefore the tax payable here.

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Tories should not equate philanthropy with tax avoidance

Budget

By Lord Ashcroft

At the last general election David Cameron declared that the Big Society was the Conservatives’ big idea. Whatever one thinks about the potency of the Big Society as a political message – and I have my doubts, as I have said before – it is based on a good Conservative principle: that the state’s role is limited, and voluntary groups have an important part to play in helping society flourish. So it would be a pity if, rather than encouraging such groups, the government’s policies actually damaged them.

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