Joel Muckett 20 Nov 2017 02:35pm

Get tough on tax avoidance, say Conservative voters

Seven in 10 Conservative voters believe the government should be more active in tackling tax avoidance by companies

Additionally, four in five were in favour of tougher transparency rules for companies based or with a significance presence in Britain, according to a YouGov survey.

The survey’s release follows the Paradise Papers leak, which exposed the use of offshore tax havens by the world’s biggest businesses, political figures and celebrities.

Britain’s overseas territories and crown dependencies, such as Jersey, were placed under the spotlight in the Papers for their role in facilitating global tax avoidance.

With the exception of Montserrat, none of them agreed to the government’s request to introduce public registers which would reveal who owned the companies incorporated there – a pledge made by David Cameron in 2013.

The survey revealed that nearly two thirds (62%) of conservative supporters believed the government had a responsibility to make these jurisdictions more transparent.

Charity organisation Oxfam, who commissioned the poll, said tax avoidance “deprives” countries of the “vital funds” needed to tackle poverty.

“The government sounds dangerously like it thinks its job done on tackling tax avoidance. But despite some positive steps, gaping loopholes mean the UK and developing countries continue to miss out on vital funds needed to support the poorest,” said Oxfam’s head of advocacy Katy Chakrabortty.

Oxfam called for the implementation of country-by-country reporting by 2019, which would require UK-based multinationals to publish their tax payments in every country.

It estimated that the policy would cover one in five of the world’s biggest businesses. This would include some listed companies that represent almost 60% of the market value (£32trn) of all large listed companies.

“The good news is that the government could make a real difference simply by implementing its existing policies. Ministers need to enforce the transparency they have asked for in our own tax havens,” said Chakrabortty.

Chakrabortty said putting the policy into action would “shine a light” on corporate tax affairs and “boost accountability” beyond the UK.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of the British public thought the government could do more to reduce corporate tax dodging and nearly four in five (78%) wanted a requirement for country-by-country reporting.

Economist Gabriel Zucman estimated that more than £170bn was being held in tax havens such as Bermuda by wealthy British tax dodgers, costing £5bn a year in lost revenues for the Treasury.

Last week, the Big Four firms were criticised for facilitating and profiting from tax avoidance schemes

EY was revealed to have been involved in a scheme helping Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton avoid paying VAT on the purchase of a jet.

Additionally, private equity firm Blackstone was found to have consulted PwC and Deloitte on tax advice on property deals, avoiding millions of pounds in taxes.