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‘Jail advisers who urge tax avoidance’: Hodge

‘Jail advisers who urge tax avoidance’: Hodge

A cross-party group of MPs has recommended prosecuting financial advisers who push their clients towards aggressive tax avoidance.

The public accounts committee has published two reports into tax after examining the use of tax relief and the role of advisers from the Big Four accountancy firms.

It follows the announcement two weeks ago by HM Treasury that advisers who assist in tax evasion will be prosecuted.

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Margaret Hodge MP, chairman of the committee, said: “Our hearings with the Big Four accountancy firms and promoters of marketed avoidance schemes have exposed a tax avoidance industry, comprising many large accountancy firms, tax advisers and lawyers, all of whom are making lucrative business out of designing and selling ways for their clients to avoid tax.

“We have argued for new offences to penalise those involved in advising or helping companies and individuals avoid or evade tax.”

Over the past few years, several celebrities have faced criticism for agressive tax avoidance but then claimed they had been advised to do so.

Legal view

Andrew Watters, director and tax specialist at London-based Thomas Eggar, said: “Any attempt to criminalise agents who are not committing criminal acts will be an interesting innovation in the British legal system.”