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One minute with... Dan Neidle

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What’s keeping you busy at work? 
Right now, everyone wants to know what the general election result means. What’s the timing of the Finance Bill? Will the Tories change their approach to tax policy – perhaps reverse their plans to reduce corporation tax? What’s the DUP’s policy on tax? What would Labour’s tax plans mean for UK plc, given there is now the distinct possibility that, one way or another, we end up with a Labour government in the near future? 
Is there a recent tax development that has caught your eye? 
I continue to be fascinated by the DPT. I still don’t know what it’s for. A ‘Google tax’ that doesn’t apply to Google? A tax aimed at foreign multinationals whose only public victim is Diageo? HMRC boasting to the press about how many companies it is attacking, but refusing to give any figures when asked in Freedom of Information Act requests? All very odd. It’s a car crash of a tax, and will keep academics entertained and litigators well fed for many years.
On hybrids: is there a better way of combating the ‘mischief’ at which the rules are aimed?
I’m not sure there is a worse way. 
Many corporates are wondering if the hybrid rules apply to their external debt. On any sane view it shouldn’t. But the broadness of the ‘related party’ test means that one often can’t say for sure without a complete picture of their shareholders, bondholders, and the relationship between them. For many large businesses you will only get that picture if you have a psychic on your payroll. That puts me in the worst possible position for an adviser: I have to tell clients there’s an obscure technical problem which they weren’t previously aware of, with potentially dire consequences, and for which I have no practical solution. It is unclear to me how that’s in the interests of UK plc. 
There’s a more general point about the modern style of related party test – it seems to me to deliberately create complexity and uncertainty in a rather paranoid attempt to catch all potential taxpayer tricks. It would be preferable to have a simple test focused on ‘real’ parent/subsidiary relationships, with special rules for particular cases of concern (e.g. partnerships) and a TAAR to prevent naughtiness. 
We’d welcome your view on EU tax issues, such as the proposed CCCTB and financial transaction tax? 
They’re both terrible ideas that are almost certainly not going to happen. Both pushed by people with a political agenda who refuse to listen to counter-arguments, and entertained by policymakers who should know better. Anyone who calls a tax a ‘Robin Hood tax’ should be embarrassed to show their face in public. 
If you could make one change to a tax law or practice anywhere in the world what would it be? 
Tax authorities should be more aggressive about pursuing both evasion and highly artificial avoidance schemes in the criminal courts. Otherwise it creates a climate in which the public think people are ‘getting away’ with tax evasion and avoidance. Over the last few years that has created a toxic tax environment in which the dishonest continue to feel enabled to evade tax, whilst the honest suffer from reams of complex anti-avoidance rules that aren’t necessary and merely add complexity and cost. I understand that HMRC has limited time and resources, and in narrow financial terms criminal prosecutions are hard to justify: but they affect taxpayer perceptions in a way that no amount of complex anti-avoidance legislation ever will.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
Brexit. I would quite like to have back all the time I spent reading CJEU judgments. 
You might not know this about me but...
My colleagues gave me a Donald Trump mask for Christmas. I haven’t worn it to any client meetings yet.