UK: Money laundering bill offers chance to tackle tax loopholes

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February 6 2018

Britain is right to tackle the legal loopholes which allow widespread offshore tax-dodging worldwide (Tax crackdown has failed, says Labour, as only third of £1bn target is recovered, 5 February). As investigations like the Paradise Papers have shown, British overseas territories play a key role in facilitating tax avoidance, with cash stashed in tax havens for the low tax rates and financial secrecy. When companies don’t pay their share, it is often poor countries which are hit hardest – low tax revenue means less money in the pot for vital services likes schools and hospitals. There is strong cross-party support – most notably from MPs Margaret Hodge and Andrew Mitchell – for bringing in public registers of the real owners of companies in the overseas territories, which would help lift the lid on where companies should pay their dues. The sanctions and anti-money laundering bill currently under consideration by parliament offers the UK government a ripe opportunity to introduce such a measure. Securing this amendment would help the UK fulfil its commitment to greater tax transparency and free up more money to help fight poverty around the world.