Ernst & Young: tax haven apologist

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The Sunday Times has a good feature on tax havens / secrecy jurisdictions:

Gordon Brown will urge G20 leaders meeting in London this week to back a crackdown on tax havens, asking them to agree new rules to punish multinationals that use offshore shelters to dodge revenue bills.

The move is likely to provoke a furious response from British business leaders.

The plan will ask G20 leaders to: single out companies that put valuable intellectual property such as drug patents, industrial designs and consumer brands into tax havens; spread the net on transactions with tax-haven companies much more widely, meaning most deals would become liable for charges; and stop international financial agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from making loans to tax havens that flout the new code.

Tax experts questioned the need for a crackdown. Chris Sanger, head of tax policy at the accountants Ernst & Young, said: “This is a very large change in the tax system and one that would need to be very carefully considered to ensure that it did not disadvantage legitimate activity. To my mind this seems to be taking the campaign against tax havens to an extreme.”

A Downing Street source said: “Taken together, these measures would make tax havens increasingly unacceptable and costly to operate. We have made significant progress but we now need to maintain the pressure.”

I admire the courage of E & Y in commenting – at least they did so.

I utterly condemn what they say.

E & Y must know that if tax haven activity were eliminated we would not need about how to pay for the Millennium Development Goals – all the cash we would need would be available.

So I make the point: E & Y does three things in making these comments:

  1. It supports the continuation of world poverty;
  2. It supports systems that undermine democracy;
  3. It declares its support for undermining the rule of law.

They can’t argue – these are facts, and these are the choices they have made.

And full marks to Downing Street if this is the agenda.

Let’s see it delivered in the Foot report.