25 January 2013

All talk and no trousers

I see that, once again, our Prime Minister has been banging on about tax evasion.  (In Switzerland of all places!)  The Guardian reports:

"Companies need to wake up and smell the coffee, because the customers who buy from them have had enough," the prime minister told business leaders (video) at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Protesters targeted Starbucks branches late last year after it admitted it had paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in the UK over the past 14 years. The firm subsequently promised to pay £20m over two years, amid fears of a consumer boycott.
Cameron's speech attracted strong criticism from the body that represents Britain's accountants, but the PM insisted he was the most "pro-business leader" you could find. He said it was not just NGOs that had been lobbying him to crack down on tax-dodging firms, but the upper echelons of the City too. "It's a world where some companies navigate around legitimate tax systems – and even low tax rates – with an army of clever accountants."
Cameron said there was nothing wrong with sensible tax planning, but "some forms of avoidance have become so aggressive that I think it's time to call for more responsibility and for governments to act accordingly". He said: "In the UK we've already committed hundreds of millions into this effort – but acting alone has its limits. Clamp down in one country and the travelling caravan of lawyers, accountants and financial gurus just moves on elsewhere. We need to act together at the G8."

Do you suppose that this means that the UK government will crack down of those of its dependencies, such as the Caymans, whose principal function appears to be acting as tax havens?  Or that they will reverse the cuts in HMRC staff numbers?  No, nor do I ...

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