Call to name and shame tax avoiders

The Commons public accounts committee is calling on the government to adopt a 'name and shame' approach to tax avoiders in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Over the past year tax avoidance has been prominent in the media, and public perception has changed, with many people incorrectly believing it is illegal. Tax evasion is illegal, but tax avoidance is not, hence the battle against it is fought on moral grounds - with the punishment at stake being 'shame' as opposed to any kind of criminal proceedings, punishment or fines.

The government hopes to dissuade companies and affluent individuals from taking part in complex schemes that help them minimise their tax contributions by setting the media dogs on them. It is a technique that has already worked with some celebrities, who were publicly outed as taking part in tax avoidance schemes, and who quickly went public to apologise and confirm they had seen the error of their ways. Starbucks was even forced into a conciliatory measure of paying extra corporation tax in face of much negative publicity.

The Commons public accounts committee estimates that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is currently losing out on £5billion a year as a result of tax avoidance schemes.

If you live in Northern Ireland and require advice in respect of income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, or general tax planning, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 9288.