FDs divided over ethics and tax avoidance

The debate surrounding whether tax avoidance has become an ethical issue has
divided the UK’s financial directors, according to the Accountancy
/Reed Finance Big Question.

Of the 223 participants in the survey, 57% said that tax avoidance did have
ethical implications, with 43% saying ethics and avoidance were not linked.

One FD said that it was ‘unfair’ that people ‘intentionally’ looked for ways
to take advantage of the tax system. Another argued that it was unjust for
organisations with resources to ’employ personnel to identify ways that allow
for manipulation of the taxes to pay’.

Another FD, however, said that the labour government’s ‘stealth’ taxes were
stifling commerce.

‘Overtly aggressive tax avoidance will always tread a thin line – but
retrospective attacks and legislative change is wrong,’ the FD said.

The results of the Big Question come after KPMG issued a report saying that
the public profile of tax had become ‘more conspicuous’ and had ‘acquired moral,
ethical and social dimensions’ for the first time.

‘The business management issues associated with tax have become more
complicated, more subtle, more steeped in risk and much more challenging,’ the
KPMG report said.

PwC chairman Kieran Poynter also indicated that the nature of tax work was
changing, saying that accountants were focusing more on tax assurance work than
aggressive tax planning.

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