'Stop pussyfooting on tax dodging': Corbyn to attack David Cameron

Pussy Galore

David Cameron must stop procrastinating when it comes to tackling tax avoidance and force the richest to pay their way, Jeremy Corbyn is to say.

Launching the party’s English local election campaign, the Labour leader will use the leak of tax records from a Panama law firm as an example of deep unfairness in today’s society.

“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,” he will say on Tuesday.

“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.

“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.”

Corbyn will also criticise cuts to HM Revenue & Customs, saying the government needs to 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,” he is to say.

Since the publication of the documents, Cameron has been under fire for failing to live up to the tough words of his promises to crack down on tax avoidance and tax evasion and to bring transparency to offshore jurisdictions.

Despite pressure from the UK, most crown dependencies and overseas territories have resisted moves for a central public register of beneficial owners of companies registered on their land.

The prime minister has also been under scrutiny over his family’s tax affairs, after the Panama papers revealed his late father, Ian, ran an offshore fund that avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain

On Monday, the prime minister’s spokeswoman said that Downing Street had responded to allegations about Cameron Sr in the past.

Asked if there was still any family money invested in the fund, she said: “That is a private matter.” She said the prime minister had “taken a range of action to tackle evasion and aggressive tax avoidance”.

The Panama Papers: how to hide a billion dollars – video explainer

But this approach was challenged by Richard Murphy, expert at Tax Research UK, who said he had sympathy with Cameron but he should clarify whether he could benefit in future from any family money tied up in Panama.

“David Cameron is in a very public position,” said Murphy. “Why shouldn’t he give an answer to the question? It is wrong to hold him accountable for what his father may or may not have done. But it is right to say he should be making a disclosure about any potential conflicts of interest that might have given rise to on his part and which he might have some influence over.”

Caroline Flint, Labour MP and member of the Commons public accounts committee, said: “Today of all days, when ordinary people are trying to sort out their Isas, we have a major expose of how the rich and powerful have a different set of rules from everyone else.

“I think when there are legitimate questions about the ways in which individuals and organisations may have benefited from complex tax arrangements, other beneficiaries should be open to answering some questions about whether they have benefited from them.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 5th April 2016 06.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010