Tag Archives: tax avoidance

The LDV debate: Should politicians release their tax returns? Part Two

The issue of politicians and their tax returns has been in the media once again recently, sparked in part by increased scrutiny of tax avoidance measures. The prime minister has said (via the chancellor) that there are no plans to publish his returns, while the man who would like to be in his shoes, Boris Johnson, said on a trip to the US last week that other UK politicians should follow his lead (and those of their US counterparts) in publishing their returns.

Here. the Voice’s Nick Thornsby and Paul Walter debate the issue. Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. You can read Part One here.

Nick Thornsby: A number of people in response to our opening gambits went further and suggested that the tax affairs of everyone should be a matter of public record. In some ways I would have less of an issue with this than singling out politicians for special attention (though I am unconvinced by the logic of the argument).

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The LDV debate: Should politicians release their tax returns? Part One

The issue of politicians and their tax returns has been in the media once again recently, sparked in part by increased scrutiny of tax avoidance measures. The prime minister has said (via the chancellor) that there are no plans to publish his returns, while the man who would like to be in his shoes, Boris Johnson, said on a trip to the US last week that other UK politicians should follow his lead (and those of their US counterparts) in publishing their returns.

Here. the Voice’s Nick Thornsby and Paul Walter debate the issue. Please do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Nick Thornsby: Like the prime minister, I am “relaxed” at the prospect of him and him alone releasing his tax returns for public consumption. Any individual is welcome to do so. But we know, of course, that this is unlikely to be isolated to the PM himself: the floodgates will be open, and all senior and aspiring politicians will, in time, be forced to release theirs. Hooray, some might think: a victory for transparency. I disagree.

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Julian Huppert writes… Clamping down on Tax Dodging

Tax dodging is plain wrong. There can be absolutely no justification for the wealthy not paying what they owe.

More than any other party, we know how important it is to have a fair tax system. Before the last elections, we pledged to lift the income tax threshold to £10,000. We have surpassed this by raising it to £10,600, lifting more than 3 million low earners out of paying income tax altogether.

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Opinion: Tackling tax avoidance should be a top manifesto issue 

pre manifesto documentIn the flurry of press coverage over recent UKIP success, the steady rise of the Greens is usually ignored (including by the broadcast media who are excluding them from the pre-election debates).

The Greens have taken the left-wing protest vote which of course we used to get.  On the doorsteps in Hornsey and Wood Green, disillusionment with politics is clear to see – not because of immigration or Europe, but because the burdens of austerity are not seen to be shared equally.  One of the main sources of outrage is tax avoidance.  Major corporations are still paying minimal amounts of tax, and this means that the Exchequer is getting many billions less than it should be.  Local government spending continues to be cut, public sector pay continues to be almost flat, and the pressure on benefits for those of working age remains.

The Conservatives have made considerable noise on the subject of tax avoidance.  But as of 2013, the UK’s top 100 companies still had over 8000 subsidiaries in onshore or offshore tax havens, and the ‘tax efficiency’ industry continues to flourish.  The lobbying by large corporate donors to the Conservative party means that although some of the more outrageous tax avoidance schemes have been shut down there remains a huge discrepancy between the profits made and the tax paid by many companies. There is some good news on a proposed ‘Google tax’ which aims to clamp down on companies shifting profits between different countries; however the danger is that it will be significantly watered down after the big corporates have had their say, in the way that the new General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR) has been.

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Eric Schmidt’s perplexity – a challenge to governments

Google’s Eric Schmidt has been reported as being perplexed by the UK’s debate on tax avoidance.

I view that you should pay the taxes that are legally required. It’s not a debate. You pay the taxes.

If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply. If the taxes go up we will pay more, if they go down we will pay less. That is a political decision for the democracy that is the United Kingdom

There’s a contrast here with the case of Starbucks, volunteering a little extra tax in a failed attempt to head …

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LibLink: Vince Cable – We’ll hunt down the tax avoiders

Over on The Guardian website, Vince Cable writes:

Tax avoidance, sham directors, money laundering: the recent Guardian investigation made sobering reading. In the UK we are proud that it is easier and cheaper to set up a company here than just about anywhere in the world. This flexibility is hugely valued by the start-ups and small companies which create a significant proportion of our wealth and jobs, and which are vital to recovery from the latest recession. But this flexibility provides a challenge: how do we stop our system from being abused by people who want to use it to dodge tax or to launder the proceeds of crime?…

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Opinion: Avoid the Tax Avoiders!

On 15th October last, Liberal Democrat Voice published my splutteringly crimson outburst about multinational corporation tax avoiders Opinion: Calling All Bloggers – Don’t make me a tax avoidance accomplice.

Back then, I pleaded that an ongoing media debate would hopefully, at last, provide the oxygen needed to bring about some serious action in respect of corporate tax collecting: “…the media at least seems to be smelling blood. I hope they see this through to some sort of conclusion.”

And didn’t they do well?

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