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Tax Avoidance and Evasion

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You’d have to have been on the dark side of the moon this past week or so not to have noticed the growing scandal engulfing HSBC, HMRC and a variety of rich and powerful corporations and individuals.

Let me start by saying I see tax as the glue that bonds our society. This issue is about equality of treatment for everyone and therefore a matter that is fundamental to basic, social and economic justice. 

I understand that if our politicians fail to tackle this matter properly, then we not only undermine our ability to provide a fairer, more equitable society via the redistribution of wealth and the public services we deserve. We also undermine and weaken the very fabric of our democracy itself.

In my opinion this issue is inherently linked to the economic and political narrative that has dominated our country the past 35 years.

It is a creed that extols the virtue of the individual over and, at the expense of, the common bonds of society.

One that despises the role of the democratic state in most spheres of the economy and prefers instead the creeping rule of trans-national corporations and wealthy elites.

It is a philosophy that sees tax as something to be shunned and avoided. One that sees wealth creation not as a collective, co-operative endeavour but a private activity whose rewards should be enjoyed predominantly by a select few.

To that end I see this issue as not just one of the fundamental issues of this forthcoming election but also one that goes to the very heart of the moral, political and economic degeneration this country has witnessed since 1979.

 

Below is what a future Labour Government has promised to do as regards tax avoidance.

If elected in 2015 Labour will:

Strengthen the HMRC with a comprehensive root and branch investigation into its culture and practices

Invest more resources into HMRC to enhance its capabilities

Take action on tax havens

Ensure complete tax transparency

Stop corporations exploiting loopholes to shift profits offshore

Stop abuses which allow supposedly dormant companies to trade with tax impunity

End tax scams in the construction industry

Introduce a genuine deterrent to aggressive tax avoidance schemes

On a personal level I would also like to see legislation that helps developing countries tackle tax avoidance. Some of those already promised by Labour (above) should achieve this. But also legislating to force companies to publish key data for every country they do business in will also help.

I also agree that a significant amount of the money raised through these measures should be used to fight poverty both here and abroad.

I believe taken together we can begin to rebuild trust in our democracy and tackle poverty. However, I do not believe this will be an easy process. Powerful, vested interests will not simply roll over and accept this. They will fight back and they will fight back hard and dirty to those that stand-up to them.

Ultimately both visible and vocal public support will be needed to see this through to the end.

This is one for the long-haul.

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