22 Mar 2013 09:09am

Gauke: we are determined to tackle aggressive avoidance

David Gauke, Exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said this week's Budget "makes the UK more competitive"

Speaking at Chartered Accountants' Hall last night, Gauke said that the government was committed to simplifying the tax system and cracking down on artificial tax schemes which promote aggressive avoidance.

"I think accountants have been vilified," said Michael Izza, chief executive of ICAEW, who conducted the conversation with Gauke, and urged the minister to make sure the accountancy profession wasn't unfairly portrayed in the debate over tax avoidance. 

David Gauke, Michael Izza and David Cruickshank speak to economia 


"I think it's only fair to say a sophisticated tax system requires a sophisticated tax profession," said Gauke, who praised the work of the Office for Tax Simplification and said the government was giving additional resource to HMRC to help them deal with tax avoidance.

He said the government would work to improve the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) and disincentivise anyone tempted to take part in a scheme promoting aggressive avoidance, saying it was partly an issue of "education."

"I think a line can be drawn between tax planning and that with a degree of artificiality, a degree of contrivance," said Gauke. "There are such schemes out there, promoted by mainly boutique advisers, and we are determined to take action to dissuade people engaging in these schemes."

The minister was also praised for easing the requirements for some small businesses and RTI announced this week. "I think RTI is a good system," he said. "I think it's time the PAYE system moved into the twentieth century. But we are keen to keep working constructively with everyone on how it is implemented."

"I think the chancellor delivered on a number of issues," said Izza, who said the government had delivered a Budget that would provide some help for businesses in a very difficult economic climate.

On Wednesday the chancellor unveiled a downgraded growth outlook for the UK economy and brought the headline rate of corporation tax down to 20%.

Helen Roxburgh


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