Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls has set out plans to tackle tax avoidance, promising fresh legislation in the first months of a new parliament.
The move comes days after an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama, the Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists alleged that HSBC had aided thousands of UK residents in avoiding tax between 2005 and 2007.
In an opposition day debate in Parliament this afternoon, Labour will table a motion calling on Prime Minister David Cameron and former HSBC chairman Lord Green to make a full statement on the latter’s appointment as minister for trade and investment in 2011.
Lord Green served as a minister until 2013.
In its first Finance Bill, Labour says it would require overseas territories and Crown Dependencies to produce publicly available registries of beneficial ownership to better track funds held outside of the UK. The party also pledges to introduce penalties for individuals falling foul of the General Anti-Abuse Rule.
Labour would also seek to limit the ability of large companies to move profits out of the UK to avoid corporation tax, stop umbrella companies enjoying tax relief and scrap a scheme introduced by the Coalition which allows employees to take shares in their companies in exchange for sacrificing rights on unfair dismissal, redundancy and flexible working.
Shares gained under the scheme are currently exempt from capital gains tax.
Finally, Labour vows to change rules to end “disguised” self-employment, and to require more frequent reporting by dormant companies.
Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls says: “David Cameron and George Osborne have totally failed to tackle tax avoidance in the last five years. They have failed to close the loopholes we have highlighted. And the amount of uncollected tax has risen under this Government.
“I am determined that the next Labour government will act where the Tories have failed. We will close loopholes that cost the exchequer billions of pounds a year, increase transparency and toughen up penalties. And we will act in our first Finance Bill.”