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PM confirms register of beneficial owners to be made public

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Prime minister David Cameron has confirmed that a register of beneficial owners of all UK companies is to be made publicly available as part of the government’s pledge to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, as was first announced at the June 1013 G8 Summit. It is proposed that the register will contain information on individuals with an interest in more than 25% of a company’s shares or voting rights, or who otherwise control the way it is run. The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) will set out further detail about the information to be held, and how it should be updated, in its formal response to the discussion paper to be published in early 2014.

The move was welcomed by tax campaigners and charities. ActionAid executive director Richard Miller called it a ‘hugely significant step forward and a big victory for campaigners who have long called for transparency when it comes to international taxation’, while Dr Rowan Williams, chairman of Christian Aid and former Archbishop of Canterbury, hailed it as a ‘brave decision’.

Stephen Camm, tax partner at PwC, said: ‘It’s vital to up the ante in the fight against tax evasion. Publishing a register of owners shows the UK means business and a commitment to follow up on the G8 promises. It’s a brave call that could drive some investors who value confidentiality, sometimes for personal safety, away from Britain. But government clearly feels it’s a price worth paying to help root out tax evaders. It’s crucial the register is clear, robust and easily understood, and it will take time and considerable effort to meet these goals.  Anything incomplete or inaccurate could do more harm than good.’

Issue: 1192
Categories: News , Compliance , Corporate taxes