Law-stretching tax
advisers to be shamed

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Cowboy tax advisers who use avoidance schemes that push the law to its limits will be named and shamed, the Government said yesterday.

Ministers said HM Revenue and Customs will also force so-called experts who promote aggressive avoidance schemes to publish lists of their clients.

The crackdown should help recoup £5 billion for the public purse, which accounts for 14 
per cent of uncollected taxes, Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said.

When tough decisions needed to be made to cut the budget deficit, it was galling for the hard working majority to see others shirk their civic duty by using aggressive avoidance schemes, the Minister told the think-tank Policy Exchange.

His comments came as the Government launched a consultation paper on its planned reforms. It follows a wave of disclosures about the financial loopholes used by the rich and famous to legally side-step hefty tax bills.

Mr Gauke said: “At a time of economic difficulty, when tough decisions have to be made on public spending and when the burden of taxation remains high, there is little sympathy for those who do not make their full contribution.

“For those who work hard and pay their taxes, it is galling to see others shirk their responsibilities on either front.”

Yesterday’s announcement comes after comedian Jimmy Carr last month admitted to making a “terrible error of judgment” when it emerged he used a complex scheme to reduce his tax bill. The K2 tax-avoidance scheme Carr is said to have used enables members to pay income tax rates as low as 1 per cent.

But Brendan Barber, TUC 
general secretary, said: “As well 
as targeting aggressive tax 
avoiders, Ministers must cut this multi-billion pound problem off at source by closing the many loopholes that the super-rich exploit.”