Tax dodgers should be 'named and shamed', say MPs

Feb 19, 2013

Firms are 'running rings around' the taxman in schemes costing UK £5bn a year

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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.

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Or the Country should sort out its tax laws! Tax avoidance isn't even breaking the law and in most cases is perfectly ethical (salary sacrifice for childcare vouchers being one example) and therein lies the problem

Oh please, what needs to happen is the tax code needs to be massively simplified - its current complexity means there are a crapload of holes clever accountants and lawyers can find to avoid paying tax. Remember tax avoidance is NOT illegal (that would be tax evasion and is a crime), nor is it immoral as a company has a duty to maximise profits for its shareholders. The government needs to get their finger out on this issue, Labour avoided it for 13 years and we need action now. Do I care how much tax Amazon pay? No I don't because they provide me with a great value for money service. A Labour MP taking this tack is a bit rich given they did nothing in their 13 years of power to tackle tax avoidance - all I've heard from the opposition for the last three years is whine whine whine and not one word about how THEY would tackle any of our existing problems.