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Pandora Papers POLL: Is it time to make tax avoidance illegal? | Personal Finance | Finance


Among those named and shamed was the ruling family of Qatar who avoided £18.5million tax on their London supermansion, and Labour’s ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair who dodged a £312,000 tax bill. Associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis have all been exposed by the leak too, but deny any wrong-doing.

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To many hard-working tax-payers, the corruption of more than 300 rich and famous figures that the Pandora Papers exposed is sickening and enraging.

UK citizens have just been hit by a 1.25 percent rise in National Insurance, pensioners have been denied their triple-lock inflation rise, and universal credit has been cut, all whilst the mega-rich have escaped tax and refused to contribute their fair share to the societies they prosper from.

One Twitter user wrote: “Pandora Papers reveal a choking amount of corruption and illegal earnings in the UK. Wow, is anyone surprised?”

The glass ceiling between the ‘normal’ working person and the elite untouchables has been shown in broad daylight through this leak, which is now one of the biggest in modern history.

Potential corruption in the Tory party has been exposed too.

On becoming leader of the Conservatives, Boris Johnson appointed Ben Elliot as Tory co-chair, who according to the Pandora Papers, jointly owned a secret offshore film financing business avoiding tax.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has said that HMRC will investigate the Pandora Papers “to see if there’s anything we [the Treasury] can learn”.

Discussing tax avoidance, he added: “As you’ve seen from the [Pandora] papers, it’s a global problem, there’s a global dimension to it and we need other countries to co-operate with us to tackle this, but we’re determined to do that.”

However, the Chancellor said the UK has a “strong track record” and denies that the Pandora Papers are a “source of shame”.

Can’t see the poll below? Click here.

The Pandora Papers have exposed criminals who are hiding the proceeds of crime, or money laundering, but they also expose those who have stayed on the “right side of the law” by hiding wealth cleverly, immorally many would argue, but legally.

But political actors say, in order to tackle the problem, tax avoiders must face criminal punishment too, not just naming and shaming.

Currently, in the UK, a person can go to prison for tax evasion for a maximum of seven years and receive an unlimited fine, but there is no legal punishment for “tax avoidance”.

Tax evasion occurs when a person or company deliberately misrepresents their finances to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability, such as declaring less income, profits or gains than the amounts actually earned.

Tax avoidance is when an individual or company legally exploits the tax system to reduce tax liabilities, such as establishing an offshore company in a low-tax haven under an artificial name, so that finances cannot be traced back to them.

READ MORE: Brexit fishing row: Boris urged to protect UK waters

Millionaires and billionaires often hide money through investments in places like Panama, the British Virgin Islands, and Singapore.

Those at the top of the Finance industry may argue that tax avoidance allows the rich to keep their money and subsequently found companies which creates jobs and more wealth.

But, after a decade of austerity and a widening inequality gap, there will certainly be calls on the British Government to re-assess the country’s approach to tax avoidance.

What do you think needs to change? Vote now and let us know more about your opinion in the comments section below.

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