Many people will have seen the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech recently, where he spoke of Amazon’s tax affairs and also drew attention to the shocking treatment and poor pay conditions faced by its staff.
I agree that multinational companies that accrue large amounts of revenue in the UK should pay their fair share of tax. Taxation is what underpins our shared prosperity. All of us, including business, benefit from a healthy, educated and skilled population, with access to basic services and secure housing.
I am concerned that the small tax contributions of some companies such as Amazon indicates the extent to which our corporate tax system has become divorced from the realities of our modern economy. Many multinational companies limit their tax liability by employing tactics such as transfer pricing and share awards. Large multinational technological companies are also increasingly shifting profits offshore to tax havens and countries with low-tax regimes.
It is deeply unfair that, while our high streets stores struggle to remain competitive, corporations like Amazon get away with paying so little in tax. In our area and across the country, we have all heard stories about small stores struggling to compete in the face of non-collection of huge amounts of tax from multinational companies such as Amazon. Ultimately, it is small businesses that will have to pick up the tab.
I believe that the Government must act on this matter. I would like to see HMRC given the resources and skills necessary to clamp down hard on the small number of unscrupulous individuals and companies who seek to avoid the responsibilities that the rest of us meet. As such, I have written to the Chancellor, pressing him to take action.
At the 2017 general election, I stood on a manifesto which committed to close down tax loopholes and tackle the social scourge of tax avoidance through a Tax Transparency and Enforcement Programme. This would include reversing the cuts to HMRC and restoring staffing numbers with an additional £200 million of funding.
I remain committed to pressing for real action to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion, to ensure that those super-rich individuals and minority of giant corporations seeking to duck their responsibilities to society pay their fair share.