Taylor review calls for public debate on gig economy solutions

The UK government said it will not “revisit” the issue of the self-employed rate of national insurance contributions (NICs) after a team commissioned to review the gig economy endorsed the principles behind the government’s attempt to increase the rate in the spring 2017 budget.

NICs paid by employees and by self-employed people should be “moved closer to parity,” according to the team’s report titled “Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices,” published July 11.

Led by Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA think tank, the review team concluded that the taxation of labour should be made more consistent across forms of employment over the long term. The review was “only the latest in a series of studies to make the point,” and the team encouraged the government to raise public awareness of the issue and engage in debate with stakeholders about potential long-term solutions. Read more:

My news story for Tax Analysts, July 12 (paywall)

UK government ‘disappointed’ at lack of progress on public country-by-country reporting

The UK government is disappointed at a lack of progress toward international agreement on public country-by-country reporting of profits and taxes, Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs.

Labour MP Caroline Flint asked during a July 10 House of Commons debate on the G-20 summit what progress the government had made on public CbC reporting. She noted that in June 2016 David Gauke, then financial secretary to the Treasury, told MPs that “if we have not made progress by this time next year on reaching a multilateral agreement, we will need to look carefully at the issue once again.”

“We regularly raise that issue, and we are disappointed at the lack of progress on it,” May replied.

Flint’s intervention followed an annual meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on responsible tax, where Labour MP Margaret Hodge was re-elected as chair. “We are well-resourced this time,” Hodge said of the cross-party group, which was formed in 2015. Read more:

My news story for Tax Analysts, July 12 (paywall)

Tax experts ‘shaped’ transparency debate, campaigners told

Business tax experts’ dominant role in consultations on measures to counter base erosion and profit shifting shaped a key debate on tax transparency, raising questions about inclusiveness and the formulation of policy, according to research presented to the Tax Justice Network.

Professionals played a central role in shaping the BEPS policy environment and process, according to a draft research paper presented by Rasmus Christensen, PhD fellow at Copenhagen Business School, at the Tax Justice Network’s annual conference in London July 5.

Christensen concluded that, operating within a technical policy environment “far removed” from high-level politics, “professionals seeking to make their mark on new standards for corporate tax transparency mobilised expertise and network capital, shaping what could be discussed, the criteria for accepted arguments, and who was listened to in the policy process, thus critically affecting the final policy outcomes.” His investigation is part of the Horizon 2020 program COFFERS, an EU-funded collaboration of universities and civil society organisations. Read more:

My news story for Tax Analysts, July 7 (paywall)

Rasmus Christensen’s draft paper: Professional Competition in Global Tax Reform: Transparency in Global Wealth Chains

Barrister criticises ‘novel theories’ in EU state aid rulings

The European Commission’s competition directorate “invented and deployed” a number of “entirely novel theories” in challenging tax rulings under state aid law, according to a leading tax barrister.

Philip Baker, barrister at Field Court Tax Chambers and a visiting professor at the University of Oxford’s law faculty, was addressing a June 30 conference hosted by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Business Taxation …

Baker, who is a member of Ireland’s legal team in its challenge to the commission’s decision that two corporation tax opinions given to Apple amounted to illegal state aid, stressed that he was speaking entirely in a personal capacity …

The commission is applying EU state aid rules that have been in force for a long time, a commission spokeswoman told Tax Analysts in an emailed statement on July 6, adding that the commission indicated in 1998 that it would look into tax rulings if they conferred a selective advantage to specific companies. Read more:

My news story for Tax Analysts, July 7 (paywall)