Sunday, 10 April 2016

Real action needed on tax havens and tax avoidance

The person who leaked millions of documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca has done British society a great service.

It is very important that more is known about the secretive world of off-shore finance and the aggressive tax avoidance being practiced by the super-rich.

It is to be welcomed that a taskforce of HMRC and the National Crime Agency is to be set up to probe the Panama Papers, but the British Government, and other governments around the globe, need to do so much more to tackle the tax havens.

This is a massive scandal and it has even been reported that Mossack Fonseca helped to shelter the proceeds from the Brink’s Mat bullion robbery, which took place in 1980s.

One American economist Gabriel Zucman has estimated that “8% of the world’s wealth is stashed in tax havens” and, it is clear, that billions in UK taxes are being, and have been, lost.

It is all totally unacceptable that there is one rule for the rich and one rule for the rest of us, and I have no sympathy whatsoever with anyone on the long list of wealthy establishment figures, celebrities, sportspeople and politicians who have been exposed as hiding money in offshore accounts.

The people I have sympathy with are the ordinary men and women of the United Kingdom who pay their taxes, but live in communities which are seeing cut after cut to their local public services.

Just look at recent news stories. We have had the Local Government Association making the case that councils have suffered such cuts that they do not have enough resource to do basic things such as filling pot-holes. And then there is the recent study which shows that, by 2020, the spending power of the unitary authority will have fallen by £200 for every single household in Cornwall.

We are in this difficult position, partly because of the Conservative Party’s political choice of austerity, but also because the Government is failing to collect all the taxes that are legitimately due.

This issue has certainly damaged the Leader of the Conservatives. David Cameron was less than convincing when he was challenged about the offshore holding set up by his father, which was registered in Panama but operated out of the Bahamas.

Initially saying it was “a private matter” did him no favours, and I am sure that this issue will continue to bedevil him and his colleagues in the coming weeks and months.

As the leader of a political party myself, albeit a smaller one – and in a spirit of complete openness – I can confirm that I have no offshore accounts, not even on the Isles of Scilly!

[This will be my article in this week’s Cornish Guardian].

1 comment:

David Broadhurst said...

You are being disingenuous to make a political stance. I support the aims and objectives of MK in general but this is beneath you or you are being deliberately thick.
Tax avoidance is NOT ILLEGAL. Having an ISA or a TEssa enables tax avoidance. Most pension funds have offshore investments.
TAX EVASION is illegal. Viz taking a cash payment for work so it does not go through the company accounts.
Come on. I really had thought better of you. I would bet that Loveday doesn't approve of your stand.