Punish The Tax Avoidance Advisers, Demands Margaret Hodge

 In HMRC Investigation, Margaret Hodge

Professionals who design, promote or advise on tax avoidance schemes should face the same criminal sanctions as their clients if they are found to break the rules, the head of the public accounts committee has said.

Margaret Hodge said lawyers, accountants and other advisers engaged in the “grubby industry” of dodging tax currently faced no sanction if their schemes were rejected by the taxman. While clients are forced to pay back tax and face fines or even jail, tax lawyers, accountants and advisers cash in their fees before moving on to the next dodge, said the Labour MP.

“It is crazy that only those who put their money into tax avoidance schemes are properly punished, and not those who design, promote and sell them,” Ms Hodge said.

“Inevitably, when we talk about tax avoidance the spotlight falls on the high profile cases, like Gary Barlow or Jimmy Carr, Starbucks and Amazon. But tax avoidance is not confined to a small number of wealthy companies and individuals — it is a whole, grubby industry from which shameless tax advisers and promoters are making big bucks.”

Even some of Britain’s biggest accountancy firms have admitted to marketing schemes they believe have only evens odds of being approved by the taxman, she said.

“One promoter brazenly told my committee that the sole purpose of his business was tax avoidance. That is simply unacceptable. We cannot have an industry in this country based solely on ripping off the public purse.”

Full story from The Times here.

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