HC Deb 25 April 1939 vol 346 cc992-3

Let me say a few words now about tax avoidance. Finance Acts of recent years have contained many provisions relating to the avoidance of taxation, and I have made it my business to examine as closely as I could the working of those provisions. I am glad to be in a position to tell the Committee that in general they have worked with effect and have checked to a considerable extent the abuses against which they were directed. While that is the case, experts in tax avoidance still continue to devise schemes to get round the law and to render nugatory the clear intentions of the provisions which Parliament has passed. The extent to which such schemes are being employed is diminishing but the evil still persists, and I find it necessary to propose further provisions on the subject this year. I do not propose now to enter into any explanation of the nature of these proposals, as I think their discussion can only be undertaken when the details of the Finance Bill are available. They necessitate two Resolutions, one dealing with Sur-tax and the other with Estate Duty. The avoidance against which they are directed is that which occurs through the ingenious use of one-man companies. These schemes of tax avoidance are so flagrant and are so deliberately devised to get round the legislation of 1936 and 1937 that I shall have no hesitation in recommending that retrospective effect shall be given to them, as far as necessary, in accordance with the very clear warning I gave last year. There is one further Resolution relating to Inland Revenue required to correct a technical flaw discovered in the provisions for National Defence Contribution, but I do not anticipate that it will involve any controversy.

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