Government rapidly losing public confidence in its ability to tackle tax avoidance - Smith

28 February 2012

Owen SmithOwen Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, responding to reports that Barclays are to repay £500 million in tax revenue, said:

“Everybody should pay their fair share of tax and there can’t be one rule for families and small businesses and another rule for big companies.

“Ministers have failed to explain what consequences there will be for Barclays for breaking the Code of Conduct. And we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg of tax avoidance and planning. There is up to £25 billion of uncollected tax from large businesses according to the Public Accounts Committee’s recent report.  

“HMRC’s appointment of a new assurance commissioner suggests the Government recognises it is rapidly losing public confidence in its ability to tackle tax avoidance. But it will be no substitute for Ministers providing leadership, ensuring HMRC collects the tax which is due and has the resources to do that job.

“If it is to be seen as more than just a smokescreen then the new General Anti-Avoidance Rule, expected to be introduced in the Budget, must be strong enough to address avoidance schemes like the one this bank has been using.”