Tax dodgers should be 'named and shamed', say MPs
Firms are 'running rings around' the taxman in schemes costing UK £5bn a year
COMPANIES and individuals using tax avoidance schemes are "running rings around" the revenue authorities and should be "named and shamed", according to a report by the influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Chairwoman Margaret Hodge said those using such schemes were costing the exchequer at least £5bn per year, adding: "It is a game of cat and mouse and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is losing".
The Labour MP said "public anger and consumer pressure" had influenced Starbucks' decision to pay £20m in 2013/14 corporation tax in the UK after its accounting practices were labelled "utterly immoral" by MPs. Comedian Jimmy Carr also apologised for using a tax avoidance scheme after he was named and shamed in the press last year, saying he had made a "terrible error of judgment".
The PAC's report, which draws on evidence from HMRC, the Treasury and the four largest accountancy firms, calls on the government to leverage public opinion to deter companies and individuals from using tax avoidance schemes, notes the Daily Telegraph. The MPs also argue Britain could learn from Australia, where all tax schemes need to be cleared by the government before being marketed to individuals and companies, saying this measure increased transparency.
The report came as prime minister David Cameron warned on "aggressive" tax avoidance. During a visit to India yesterday, he said there were "moral questions that we have to answer about whether we want to encourage or allow" companies which avoided paying their fair share. At the World Economic Forum last month, Cameron said he believed companies had a "moral duty" to pay tax.