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Press watch: Eurobonds tax avoidance under fire

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This week, The Independent ran a series of special reports on tax avoidance involving Eurobonds, revealing how ‘more than 30 UK companies, including some of the UK’s most recognisable brands, are benefiting from this legal tax loophole, known as the quoted Eurobond exemption’, as well as criticising HMRC for being ‘particularly feeble’ over their failure to close the loophole, which ‘costs the Treasury £500m annually’, citing ‘lobbying from major accountancy and finance firms’ for the taxman backing down. On Monday, private companies that had been awarded NHS care contracts by the government came under criticism for their use of this ‘loophole’; while on Tuesday, lottery company Camelot were reported to have used the Eurobond exemption to avoid £10m in tax.

Commenting on the newspaper’s story on Monday, Andrew Watters, specialist tax lawyer at Thomas Eggar, said: ‘There is likely to be general political agreement that tax avoidance is a bad thing, but that is an easy answer to an easy question. A more difficult question would be is the profit motive a good driver for those running NHS services? If so, do we accept that they will wish to maximise profits and if not, how is the system to be funded and run?’