In light of the furore surrounding the Paradise Papers and the offshore tax affairs of companies and high net worth individuals, a chartered tax adviser has laid blame with Parliament and lawmakers.
Mark Davies, chartered tax adviser and managing director of Mark Davies & Associates said: “Tax avoidance, although it might seem morally wrong for a wealthy person to make the choice to take steps to pay less tax, is not illegal.
“The problem here is not the wealthy person, it’s the fact that the law enables him or her to make the choice. It is the lawmakers, Parliament, that is to blame. Paying tax should not be a charitable activity or a moral obligation, it should be clearly and simply defined as a legal obligation.”
Following a BBC Panorama investigative programme on the Paradise Papers on 6 November 2017, Davies said: “Exactly who is a “tax dodger”? Presumably someone who doesn’t pay tax that is due. But Panorama couldn’t distinguish between tax evasion, which is dodging tax that is due, and tax avoidance, which is taking steps to avoid paying tax so that it isn’t due. The programme seemed to describe arrangements which could be either.”
Davies added: “Some of the arrangements described seemed to be illegal tax evasion. Several arrangements were described where there was a gift to an offshore entity, the appointment of the taxpayer as the adviser to the offshore entity, and the ability to benefit from the offshore entity.
“This would seem to fall within the UK’s existing anti-avoidance legislation, and so ought to be pursued by HM Revenue and Customs.”