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Rhetoric on tax avoidance is ‘disingenuous’

"The things that get written in newspapers do not stand up to the criminal test of evidence"

12 February 2015

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Politicians are leading a disingenuous campaign around "moral outrage" instead of correctly informing the public and taking decisive action, says the head of the deVere group.

Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of financial consultancy, deVere Group, was responding to the recent revelations that HSBC helped high-net worth individuals evade hundreds of millions of pounds in tax.

He said: "The escalating political rhetoric surrounding this issue is largely unhelpful and detracts from the important conversation that is needed to combat tax evasion.

"It seems somehow disingenuous of politicians to bemoan that HMRC is 'not serving the British taxpayer' on the issue of tax avoidance and/or tax evasion - politicians are the ones who have the power to reform the rules if they wish."

He continued: "As was pointed out in the PAC [Public Accounts Committee] hearing today [12 February] by HMRC, it can only recover money that is due and three quarters of the names that it was presented with did not owe money."

Toothless HMRC

Lin Homer, chief executive of HMRC, said that two-thirds of all UK-based HSBC account holders "were found to be compliant" with UK tax laws, as she attempted to defend the apparent lack of action by HMRC.

Only one British tax payer has been successfully prosecuted as a result of the leaked documents.

She commented: "The things that get written in newspapers do not stand up to the criminal test of evidence."

Nigel Green added: "It can be reasonably assumed that these individuals were taking part in practices of tax avoidance, which is legal, and not tax evasion which is illegal.

"It would appear that HMRC is simply playing the best hand it can with the rules established by politicians and with the tools and resources they have at their disposal."

He concluded: "Action, not moral outrage by politicians is required to deal with tax evasion."


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Tax & Wealth structuring