The Liberal Democrats are pledging to get tough on tax evasion.
Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said that under new proposals organisation and people who enable or aid tax evasion would face harsh financial penalties.
The proposals include the creation of a new offence; corporate failure to avoid preventing an economic crime, which would be punishable by fines equal to those for people who benefitted from, such schemes. Alexander said he hoped the new measures would be presented to parliament before the general election.
The chief secretary's comments came in the wake of the HSBC tax scandal, which stemmed from allegations of tax dodging at the bank.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, Alexander said:
Organisations, be they accountants, banks or whatever, who help people evade tax will be liable for this new offence and crucially liable for financial penalties
So, for example, if their customers have to pay back hundreds of millions of pounds in tax then those organisations should have to match that with hundreds of millions of pounds of their own money. I think that’s a very tough disincentive to them to get involved in this in the first place.
This is taboo. This is something that absolutely mustn’t happen in our society and we still have a problem with some people thinking they can get away without paying their fair share of tax.
The aim, Alexander explained, was to close the gap between the money owed to the exchequer and the amount paid, known as the tax gap. this would help the government to decrease the budget deficit, which hasn't dropped as quickly as expected due to lower tax receipts. Lower receipts are due to a number of reasons, including the type of jobs taken by the unemployed when they enter the workforce.