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Paradise Papers: Government urged to tackle tax avoidance in Budget

Paradise Papers: Government urged to tackle tax avoidance in Budget
From BBC - November 14, 2017

The government should use next week's Budget to crack down on issues of tax avoidance raised by the release of the Paradise Papers, an ex-minister says.

Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who led an emergency debate on the leaked documents, said tax avoidance was "a national and international disgrace".

She called for new laws to force big firms to report profits more openly.

Treasury Minister Mel Stride said the government had a "very strong track record" in tackling tax avoidance.

The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contained 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading offshore finance firm.

The papers raised questions about how politicians, multinational companies, celebrities and other high-net-worth individuals use complex structures to protect their cash from higher taxes.

Speaking in the Commons, Dame Margaret - who was in the cabinet under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and is also a former chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee - said tax avoidance was now a "widely accepted behaviour of too many of those who are rich and influential".

The practice is taking place on an "industrial scale", she told MPs.

She said the record of the last Labour government had not been "as good as I would have wanted", but added that the actions of the current government had been "inadequate and somewhat hypocritical".

The Paradise Papers show firms and individuals are using certain financial jurisdictions - viewed as tax havens by some, offshore finance centres by others - to lower their taxes on profits or assets.

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