UK signals tax avoidance clampdown
Britain said today it would toughen up oversight of tax avoidance schemes which could see the government name and shame those who try to aggressively reduce their tax bills.
Under pressure to offset the impact of an austerity programme that has been a factor in the country's recession, the government is proposing new powers for the taxman.
They include greater access to information from tax avoidance schemes to identify their customers and warn those wealthy individuals over their actions.
Another proposal would see tax avoidance providers that have broken the rules being forced to reveal details of their schemes.
The move follows criticism last month of British comedian Jimmy Carr by prime minister David Cameron, who said Carr's use of an offshore tax scheme was "morally wrong".
Research from the Tax Justice Network has estimated that, worldwide, rich individuals have exploited loopholes in different nations' tax regimes to shelter as much as $20 trillion in wealth from tax authorities.
"We are building on the work we have already done to make life difficult for those who artificially and aggressively reduce their tax bills," treasury minister David Gauke will say in a speech, according to extracts released in advance.
"These schemes damage our ability to fund public services and provide support to those who need it."
Britain has slumped back into recession this year, raising concerns the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will struggle to meet its budget deficit reduction targets.
That has made areas such as clamping down on tax avoidance and finding efficiency savings across government departments a crucial, if somewhat unpredictable, part of balancing the books.
The government has come under fire for targeting individuals while overseeing a system that has been soft on big companies' tax bills.
A consultation on the treasury's proposed tax avoidance clampdown runs until October 15th.