MPs: regulate tax avoidance schemes

The government has been urged to regulate the activities of top accounting

firms in a House of Commons motion accusing firms of devising ‘aggressive’ tax
avoidance schemes that cost the Treasury billions of pounds in revenues.

So far 22 MPs, mainly Labour, have signed the motion put down by Greater
MP Austin Mitchell, a longstanding critic of the profession.

In addition, 25 MPs have signed a second motion, accusing banks, including
those now largely in state ownership, of using tax havens to avoid tax.

The ‘early day’ motions have no chance of being debated but reflect growing
concern among MPs about tax avoidance.

In the first motion, Mitchell alleges that KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers,
Deloitte, Ernst and Young, Grant Thornton and other accounting firms have been
‘devising, marketing, promoting and implementing but then concealing aggressive
avoidance schemes’.

The MPs accuse the accounting firms of ‘enabling wealthy and corporate
clients to avoid taxes and national insurance contributions by transfer pricing,
artificial loans, inflated management charges, special purpose vehicles, joint
ventures, fictitious assets, offshore schemes and secretive trusts.’

The MPs claim that these schemes deprive the Treasury of billions of pounds
of tax revenues, which in turn forces the government to curtail social
investment and shift the tax burden on to ordinary taxpayers.

In his second motion, Mitchell alleges that banks financed by the UK taxpayer

through credit, loans, guarantees and other means, have been avoiding UK taxes.

The motion claims that Lloyds TSB, RBS, HSBC, and Barclays have between them
1,207 incorporated offshoots in tax havens to enable them and their clients to
avoid and evade taxes

The motion urges the government not to give financial support to banks
engaged in ‘devising, marketing and implementing tax avoidance schemes that have
no economic substance.’

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