Labour MP Margaret Hodge repeatedly told her adviser she does not want to use tax avoidance mechanisms he recommends. And he has finally got the message.
Speaking on a panel discussion about UK corruption, hosted by the Frontline Club in London last week, Hodge said there was a spectrum of activity which goes from sensible tax planning to criminal activity.
‘Looking at tax avoidance, what you very quickly find is there is a spectrum.
‘What starts off as being a sensible bit of tax planning very quickly becomes tax avoidance, then becomes aggressive tax avoidance, evasion and then becomes criminal activity, corruption, money laundering and other financial crime.
‘It is a spectrum and too much of what we are doing is moving to that side of the spectrum which is unacceptable,’ she said.
Speaking to New Model Adviser®, Hodge, former chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said her own adviser had taken a long time to get used to her preference to not engage in tax avoidance.
‘I have a financial adviser but he does sometimes say “you could do this” and I say “no, I am not going to do that because it is tax avoidance.”
‘And he now knows and so he now, ironically, he comes to me and says “I think you should do this because it will make you more open and transparent,”’ she said.
Hodge added the change in tack on behalf of the adviser only came about after a couple of years of objections from her.
During the panel discussion Hodge, who has been outspoken on tax evasion, lamented the lack of progress that has been made tackling corruption in the UK.
‘[Former Prime Minister David] Cameron was starting to make progress on it but I am really fed up of the rhetoric of this government and the failure to turn any of the commitment to fight corruption into a reality. 4% of our GDP is now laundered money into the UK,’ she said.
According to Hodge, one of the key problems is the agencies charged with tackling financial crime, including HM Revenue & Customs, the Serious Fraud Office, City of London Police and the National Crime Agency are not sufficiently coordinated or resourced.