Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has slammed the Government for its failure to tackle tax avoidance in the aftermath of a huge leak of documents detailing offshore schemes used by wealthy investors.
The raft of confidential documents was leaked from one of the world’s biggest offshore law firms, Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, and shows how the firm has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax.
In a speech today, Corbyn said: “The publication of the Panama Papers this week drives home what more and more people feel, that there is one rule for the rich and another for everyone else. It is time to get tough on tax havens. Britain has a huge responsibility.
“Many of those tax havens are British overseas territories or Crown Dependencies. As the leaked documents show, tax havens have become honey pots of international corruption, tax avoidance and evasion. They are sucking tax revenues out of our own country and many others fuelling inequality and short-changing our public services and our people.
“The Government needs to stop pussyfooting around on tax dodging. There cannot be one set of tax rules for the wealthy elite and another for the rest of us. This unfairness and abuse must stop. No more lip service. The richest must pay their way.”
The leak came just weeks after HMRC admitted that it would fail to reach a target of raising £1bn from offshore evasion because of its existing workload.
Corbyn also slammed Government plans to further reduce the funding of HMRC, which is currently transitioning to a new structure that will see it close all 170 of its offices in favour of 13 regional hubs.
He said: “Instead of cutting Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs the Government must provide extra resources to the tax authorities to go after those who think they are above the law.
“It is unacceptable that while councils’ budgets are cut and the services on which people rely are being cut back, the super-rich elite dodge their taxes and flout the rules.”