TaxCorporate TaxGlobal taskforce sets its sights on avoidance industry

Global taskforce sets its sights on avoidance industry

An international taskforce of tax officials met secretly in London last week to discuss how the four countries involved could work together to combat cross-border tax avoidance.

Link: Revenue concedes review of tax avoidance rules

The meeting, chaired by Inland Revenue deputy chairman Dave Hartnett, was attended by high-level experts from the UK, the US, Australia and Canada.

As a result of the meeting, two senior staff from each country will be permanently seconded to Washington. Tony Attwood of the Inland Revenue and Eileen Rafferty of Customs & Excise will represent the UK and take up their positions on 1 September.

‘The representatives reaffirmed their determination to share information on tax avoidance and shelters so the potential loss is significantly reduced,’ a Treasury spokeswoman said.

A worldwide crackdown on the tax avoidance industry is well underway, and the US has taken the most aggressive line with its probes into Big Four firms Ernst & Young and KPMG.

Last month, KPMG was forced to name the 29 companies it sold its ‘contested liability acceleration strategy’ scheme to, which the Internal Revenue Service said led to losses of $1.7bn (£0.9m) to US tax coffers.

Companies on the list included drugs giant AstraZeneca and recently rescued telecoms operator WorldCom, now known as MCI. Details of tax shelters, the firms promoting them and the companies using them will be shared across international borders.

Inland Revenue sources claimed that the links established with other countries have already paid dividends. In the aftermath of the avoidance disclosure rules announced on Budget day, US officials warned the UK Treasury that there would be a flood of off-the-shelf avoidance schemes.

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