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Cowboy tax advisers to be named
Cowboy tax advisers who use avoidance schemes that push the law to its limits will be named and shamed, the Government has said.
Ministers said HM Revenue and Customs will also force so-called experts who promote aggressive avoidance schemes to publish lists of their clients.
The crackdown should help recoup £5 billion for the public purse, which accounts for 14% of uncollected taxes, Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said.
When tough decisions needed to be made to cut the budget deficit, it was galling for the hard-working majority to see others shirk their civic duty by using aggressive avoidance schemes, the minister told the think-tank Policy Exchange.
His comments came as the Government launched a consultation paper on its planned reforms. It follows a wave of disclosures about the financial loopholes used by the rich and famous to legally side-step hefty tax bills.
Mr Gauke said: "At a time of economic difficulty, when tough decisions have to be made on public spending and when the burden of taxation remains high, there is little sympathy for those who do not make their full contribution.
"For those who work hard and pay their taxes, it is galling to see others shirk their responsibilities on either front."
He said there was a stark difference between major accountancy firms which used legitimate methods to reduce their clients' tax bills and niche outfits who peddle crude schemes to avoid liabilities.
Mr Gauke added: "These schemes damage our ability to fund public services and provide support to those who need it. They harm businesses by distorting competition. They damage public confidence and they undermine the actions of the vast majority of taxpayers, who pay more in tax as a consequence of others enjoying a free ride.
"These firms behave differently to the well-established, reputable advisory firms. They change name frequently to avoid detection; they include fighting funds in their fees, pre-empting an inevitable clash with the authorities, and often do not comply in full with HMRC's disclosure rules."