Unite union stops advertising tax advice in avoidance battle

Tim Wallace
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Unite had previously offered to help members “build up a nest-egg tax-efficiently” (Source: Getty)
Unite the Union has removed references to “tax efficiency” from the financial advice service offered to members, after the Labour and Conservative parties attacked each other over the tax behaviour of their donors.

Unite, which is a major Labour donor, had previously offered to help members “build up a nest-egg tax-efficiently.”

But now the union has removed the politically-sensitive phrase.

Tax avoidance is a term for entirely legal tax planning, when savers arrange their finances to ensure they do not pay more tax than is required by the law.

But the term has become associated with morally dubious activity, as some lawyers and tax advisers have encouraged clients to aggressively contort their finances to tick lower-cost boxes in the UK’s complicated tax code. And the phrase is often used to conflate legal tax avoidance with illegal tax evasion.

It came after Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked Conservative party treasurer Lord Fink for avoiding tax using family trusts to transfer shares to his wife and children, cutting his tax bill.

Yesterday Labour donor Sir David Garrard was revealed by the Sunday Times to have put shares in an off-shore trust, which can be used to avoid tax. As a result Conservative MPs in turn accused Ed Miliband of “breathtaking hypocrisy.”

Unite declined to comment on the tax advice it offers members.

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