Lord Fink vs Ed Miliband: When is nasty tax avoidance just sensible tax planning?

HSBC offices in Geneva, Switzerland (Source: Getty)

The bitter parliamentary row on tax avoidance is a funny old spat – nobody caught in the cross-fire seems to have broken the law, and most of the supposedly nefarious avoidance is making use of rules that were deliberately brought in by governments to cut tax bills.

So The Capitalist wants to know when does good tax planning become bad tax dodging? Politically, the threshold for evil tax dodging seems to be: when the other bloke is doing it.
Lord Fink says he put shares into a trust for his kids so they could buy a deposit on a place in London. Not unusual, but Ed Miliband was angry.
However, politicians in glass houses should not throw stones – Labour’s own giant donor Unite the Union offers financial advice to its members.
The top service offered? “Build up a nest-egg tax-efficiently, for yourself, your children or grandchildren.”
Not a shocker – nobody wants to save money only to see it head out of the account to the exchequer – but it sounds awfully similar to the kind of tax advice that is often demonised.
“Despite questions about his own tax issues, Ed Miliband has railed against ‘dodgy donors and tax avoiders’ – it would be the height of hypocrisy for Ed Miliband not to now condemn Unite bosses who are now suggesting tax avoidance plans to their members,” an angry Conservative source told us.
Funnily enough, Labour and Unite were less keen to comment.
We’ve got 83 more days left of this before the election...

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