McDonnell urges fresh action to tackle tax dodgers

Accountants should swear an oath promising  not to aid tax dodgers, shadow chancellor John McDonnell will tell the global elites gathered at Davos.

Mr McDonnell will say the "rigged system" which allows a privileged few at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort to "sit in splendour" can be changed.

He will tell the world's rich, and leaders of big corporations, "pay your taxes".

Mr McDonnell will tell the event: "The status quo allows a powerful few here in Davos to sit in splendour whilst the great many lose out.

"But the status quo is not inevitable. It is the product of a rigged system, and systems can be changed.

"The alternative is a refusal to act that will allow the increasing inequality and injustice that affects the many in our world to continue, to benefit a few among the Davos elite."

Accountants should have an equivalent of the Hippocratic oath taken by doctors, he suggests.

"We and the public are tired of seeing increasingly complex schemes being cooked up by accountancy firms with a direct interest in obscuring and hiding the earnings of their clients," he will say.

"I am suggesting that there should be a global Hippocratic oath that commits accountants to ensuring that the companies and individuals who use them eschew the use of tax avoidance and evasion schemes."

Mr McDonnell will use the event to restate Labour's plans for anyone earning more than £1 million, and large firms to publish their tax returns.

He will say: "The next Labour government will rewrite the economic rules in the UK, and we will work with our international partners who wish to join us on this path to do the same globally.

"Britain has been for too long one of the world's leading facilitators of tax avoidance and tax evasion. I can tell you now, those days are coming to an end."

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick insisted ministers had taken action to tackle tax dodgers.

"Since 2010 we have raised an extra £160 billion in taxes for public services by tackling tax evasion and avoidance," he said.

"If John McDonnell was serious, he would back the anti-avoidance measures we are taking in the Budget that will raise an extra £4.8 billion, instead of opposing them as Labour have done so far.

"Labour admit they are 'high risk' for our economy and just like last time working people would pay the price with more debt, higher taxes and fewer jobs."

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