Economic sanctions must be backed up by a tax regime ready to isolate the Kremlin
Almost three million people have fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian invasion nearly three weeks ago.
Three million people – equivalent to the population of Wales – fighting to retain some semblance of normal life while Putin’s cruel assault shatters their homeland.
And as I listen to heart-wrenching stories of individuals and families fleeing their homes, my thoughts often return to the fact that not too many decades ago my great grandparents made a similarly uncertain journey to a foreign land fleeing persecution in Russia.
Most likely with the same few possessions on their back and a similar deep sense of loss for the country and the loved ones they were leaving behind.
It is therefore of huge importance to me personally – and professionally, in my capacity as Financial Secretary– to take all the steps available within the tax system so that it too contributes to the UK-wide effort to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine in their battle for survival.
We set out yesterday that we are freezing tax co-operation, which means we will suspend all exchange of tax information with Russia and Belarus.
In announcing this step, the UK is taking a leading role in the international tax community’s response.
This week’s suspension of tax information exchange, predominantly used to ensure compliance, will ensure the UK is not supplying Russia and Belarus with information that could lead to an increased tax benefit or yield for them.
We are also taking steps to help the Ukrainian people – both those that have fled their homes and those who have stayed to fight.
We are making the £350-a-month payment to families taking in Ukrainians under the new Homes for Ukraine scheme tax free to thank them for their generosity.
And we’ve also taken action to ease custom declarations on aid and donations going to the people of Ukraine, making it easier to supply humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
From assisting in adding economic pressure to Putin’s war regime to providing practical and sustained support to the people of Ukraine, these new economic measures demonstrate the important role Britain’s taxation system plays in contributing to the UK-wide response to Russia’s invasion on Ukraine.
This comes on top of introducing a ban on exports to Russia of high-end luxury goods, imposing asset freezes and travel bans on leading oligarchs and members of the Russian Duma, as well as providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine totalling almost £400m and defensive weapons, including more than 4,000 anti-tank missiles, and essential civilian supplies like generators and medicines.
As millions of Ukrainians see their normality displaced by uncertainty about what their tomorrow holds, the decisions we are making across government are supporting Ukrainians in their time of need, at the same time as imposing the maximum economic impact on Putin’s regime to ensure that we bring an end to this terrible conflict.