As part of the Government’s drive to encourage voluntary compliance with the tax rules, it will legislate to introduce a new requirement that large businesses publish their tax strategies as they relate to or affect UK taxation, as well as a special measures regime to tackle businesses that persistently engage in aggressive tax planning and a framework for co-operative compliance.
The Government has introduced legislation in order to counter two specific tax avoidance schemes involving capital allowances and leasing, which involve companies artificially lowering the disposal value of plant and machinery
for capital allowances purposes.
It is also introducing a new penalty of 60% of tax due in all cases successfully tackled by the general anti-abuse rule. In addition, there is a new criminal offence for corporates failing to prevent tax evasion by their agents.
In other measures, the Government is to consult on the rules concerning distribution by companies and will introduce further anti-avoidance in order to prevent opportunities for income to be converted to capital in order to gain a tax advantage.
Finally, Chancellor George Osborne made
an unkind reference to the reduction in oil prices, pointing out that, if Scotland had voted for independence, it would have had its own Spending Review this Autumn and that, with world oil prices falling and revenues from the North Sea being
forecast by the OBR to be down 94%, there would have been catastrophic cuts to Scottish public services.
He went on to say that, thankfully, Scotland remains a strong part of a stronger United Kingdom and that it would be given the resources to invest in its long-term future.
The government is to invest £1.3 billion to transform HMRC into ‘one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations’ in the world. Most businesses and self-employed individuals will be required to keep track of their tax affairs digitally and to update HMRC at least quarterly via their digital tax account. The Government will consult on the details in 2016.