Stop moralising and change tax law, top accountant tells PM

Jan 28, 2013

Ernst & Young partner tells Cameron it's a company's duty to investors to pay the lowest tax possible

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ONE of Britain's leading accountants has attacked David Cameron for his "wake up and smell the coffee" speech about tax avoidance in Davos, saying the government should legislate instead of haranguing businesses about morality.

Ernst & Young's Mark Otty, managing partner for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told the Daily Telegraph that companies have an "obligation" to their investors to pay the lowest tax possible. "The simplest solution is to stop banging on about morality and change the law," he said. "The only way you can resolve this issue is through a legal code."

Otty, whose firm is in the 'big four' of the global top accountancy companies, spoke out after the prime minister targeted legal tax avoidance in his keynote speech to the Davos World Economic forum last week.

In the wake of outrage about businesses such as Amazon, Starbucks and Google avoiding tax in Britain, Cameron said customers had had "enough" of firms who refused to pay their "fair share".

At the weekend, it was reported that Starbucks was upset by the PM's pointed remarks comments given that it had already agreed with the authorities to pay £20m in 2013/14 corporation tax. As a result, it was said the US coffee company had demanded talks at Number Ten and was threatening to block a planned £100m job-creating investment in the UK.

However, The Guardian now reports that Starbucks has denied it will halt investment plans and "remains fully committed to opening 300 new stores and creating 5,000 new jobs by 2016".

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Totally agree, companies are not going to pay any tax that they do not have to as they have a duty to shareholders to maximise profiles (legally). Cameron getting on his moral high horse over this makes me vaguely nauseous - and I voted for him. Its down to government to sort out the tax code not to companies to volunteer to pay tax - simplifying what is apparently a huge stack of enormously thick documents would be a good start :oP

I am no Cameronite, but the problem with this tax avoidance issue is that it is an international one, accountants stay up all night trying to come up with plans to avoid tax, passing from shelf company to fiscal haven, and then back!!!, so any response to this issue has to be cross border...Personally I am in favour of them "name em and shame em philosophy...publish a list of the big companies and the taxes the paid, and let them snivel and grovel their way out of it in front of the paying public!