I’ve long argued for a general anti-avoidance principle in UK tax law. A recent briefing on this issue is available as a PDF here.
Barclays leaves me more convinced than ever that we need one now. A general anti-avoidance principle of the type I propose would stop this because if there was, under the arrangement I suggest:
1) a series of transactions; which are
2) pre-ordained; and
3) into which there are inserted steps that have no commercial purpose apart from tax avoidance,
then the artificial step(s) would be ignored when calculating the companies tax.
This would stop most of what Barclays and other banks do in the way of artificial tax abuse dead in its tracks. And that's precisely what we need right now.