The ‘Paradise Papers’ are just the latest in a long line of tax scandals. Our tax system is haemorrhaging money. Lawyers are running riot offshore, while accountants are cooking up tax avoidance schemes and the rich are taking advantage of them. The system, which is rigged to benefit the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, is broken.
The impact on our public services of these corrupt practices, protected by a veil of secrecy, has been devastating. After seven years of austerity, and in a climate of continued leaks, it is time for irresponsible tax dodging to come to an end. When the wealthy engage in the kind of practices seen in the Paradise Papers, they are picking the pockets of nurses, teachers, doctors and other hard-working public servants, and harming the lives of everyone in the UK who uses public services.
HMRC, the government body tasked with policing the tax system, has seen its staff numbers and budget halved since it was formed in 2005. Meanwhile, the UK government has failed to take the opportunity to clean up the offshore system, in territories like Bermuda that are under its control, and make it harder for individuals and companies to avoid tax. It is little wonder that tax dodgers are taking advantage.
Tax Justice UK, the country’s leading campaign organisation for a fairer tax system, is now calling for the UK government to take decisive action to end the scourge of tax avoidance, once and for all:
Enforcement: Commit to properly funding HMRC, to give our tax inspectors the tools to go after tax dodgers. Stop the practice of granting amnesties to those who hide their money tax offshore, as the government has done after previous leaks. Abolish ‘non-dom’ status. Tighten the regulation of accountants, lawyers and bankers.
Transparency: Introduce public registers of beneficial ownership for trusts as well as companies, and compel UK crown dependencies and overseas territories to do the same. Mandate public country-by-country reporting for all publicly quoted companies. Publicly review tax breaks for corporates and wealthy individuals.
To: The Prime Minister
From: [Your Name]
Please clamp down on tax avoidance in the UK, by increasing the resources available to HMRC to enforce UK tax legislation, stopping the practice of granting amnesties to those who hide their money tax offshore, abolishing ‘non-dom’ status, tightening the regulation of accountants, lawyers and bankers, introducing public registers of beneficial ownership for trusts as well as companies and compelling the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories to do the same, mandating public country-by-country reporting for all publicly quoted companies, and publicly reviewing tax breaks for corporates and wealthy individuals.
You can sign this petition here