The UK's largest workers unions have called for a full investigation into how the rich and powerful use secretive tax havens, following revelations from the leaked “Paradise Papers”.
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said the government "must act immediately", and bring forward changes in the Budget to tackle tax avoidance and tax havens.
“People will be shocked and angry to learn that the British establishment has been systematically squirrelling away money offshore.
“By stashing the cash in tax havens, they’ve been depriving the British people of much-needed funding for schools, hospitals and care homes.”
The Paradise Papers, a leak of 13.4m files, many of which relate to a law firm called Appleby, shed light on the flow of money into the offshore world, and many high-profile individuals and companies have been named following the leak. These include the Queen, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Tory peer Lord Ashcroft and sports star Lewis Hamilton.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that the fact these people and companies were not paying tax was “outrageous”.
“Taxpayers will be furious at the efforts of the super-rich and their advisors, including the Queen’s, go to dodge paying their fair share of tax,” he said.
“These tax avoidance schemes may be legal, but there is deep anger and disgust about the ‘them and us’ attitude to paying tax revealed in the ‘Paradise Papers’.
“The prime minister’s refusal to commit to introducing a public register of who owns offshore companies and trusts in British tax havens or to opening a public inquiry into tax avoidance is to be strongly deplored.
“Those struggling to put food on the table for their families and to pay their mortgages and rents are expected to pay every penny of tax on the dot, but there is a parallel financial universe for the global elite, using fancy accounting instruments and legal wheezes, to protect their mountains of cash from the taxman.”