GMB Magazine GMB25 Candid Summer 2016 - Page 14

SPECIAL T R O P E R ce n a On Tax Avoid X A T E R NO MO OUR MONEY IN PANAMA Hats off to the journalists who uncovered the Panama Papers. T action is promised. The prize is £34 billion in ime was when the tiny tropical unpaid UK taxes every year – which could country of Panama was famous for help save the NHS and public services. only two things – hats and a big canal. Now it’s infamous as the source of the Panama Papers, 11 million secret DODGY DAVE documents exposing the private tax affairs Driven by a wave of bad publicity about his of the rich and powerful. Foreign dictators, personal financial affairs, David showbiz and sports stars, celebrities Cameron unveiled measures to and even our own dear Prime criminalise tax evasion. A new law Minister were caught up in will enable UK banks and finance a global scandal. firms to be prosecuted if they ‘fail To Tory shame, more than to take adequate steps’ to prevent half of the hundreds of their clients from hiding their thousands of companies ill-gotten gains from the named in the Panama Papers taxman. But the shake-up were registered in UKmet with a storm of governed tax havens, chiefly protest from the the British Virgin Islands. But Conservative Party’s some good may eventually rich pals in the City, who come from this media carnival claim it will put them of ‘hunt the dodgers’. There is a at a disadvantage with huge public appetite for change other big players like that can’t be ignored by the France and Germany. politicians any longer. Tough action looks The scandal is forcing a radical a long way off. rethink of the laws of tax Ministers will consult governance, compelling greater on draft legislation disclosure of who owns what, this year, and the where and how, and whether STOP THE DODGING The government should use original 2020 they pay their dues to society. the law to end tax avoidance. target date for National and international implementation appears wildly optimistic. The government is also preparing to crack down on lax supervision by the authorities in Britain’s 17 crown dependencies and overseas territories, where much of these financial shenanigans occur. Most of these offshore havens, including the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Isle of Man, have agreed to provide full access to tax information on the beneficial ownership – who gets how much – to UK officials. Dame Margaret Hodge MP, former Labour chair of the Public Accounts Committee, urged Cameron to use government power to instruct the UK tax havens to compile and publish registers of beneficial ownership. However, Cameron promised merely to ‘encourage’ such co-operation, and two taxbusters – Guernsey and Anguilla – promptly rejected the idea. What’s more, the information will only be available to some UK officials. The public won’t have a right to know – nor will the investigative journalists who broke the Panama scandal. CLEAN UP BRITAIN All the money lost through tax evasion could fund public services. 14 GMB National GMB25.national_14_15.7gw.indd 14 15/06/2016 11:26 ©iStock.com x 2 / Andrew Wiard x 4 We have the chance to end the corruption and bring about a fairer society, says Daily Mirror columnist Paul Routledge