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The APPG on responsible tax: a dangerous approach

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A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on anti-corruption and responsible tax covers some familiar themes: that tax avoidance remains pervasive and a call for firm action requiring a change in approach. But the proposed solution that tax advisers should be criminally prosecuted for their clients’ tax planning blurs the lines between avoidance and evasion and what constitutes honest or dishonest conduct, including the distinction between adviser and client. Currently, HMRC is not incentivised to bring criminal prosecutions in its core role as a revenue authority with budgetary pressures, and the report’s proposed legislative change to require HMRC to investigate and prosecute tax advisers will not achieve its intended objectives, and any prosecutions that are brought are likely to be too draconian in nature.

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