LONDON (Reuters) - HM Revenue and Customs on Thursday published the names of what it described as “tax cheats” for the first time, part of efforts to address public anger over tax evasion at a time of economic austerity.
Tax has become a sensitive issue in Britain as the government cuts spending to tackle a big budget deficit, and as more becomes known about legal loopholes firms such as Starbucks and Amazon use to sharply cut their tax bill.
The tax authority stressed that the list of individuals and businesses it had published only related to “deliberate” non-payment, not avoidance, which is legal but whose practice by some multinationals has raised public ire.
Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday ruled out changing the law to ban “aggressive tax avoidance”.
“The publication of these names sends a clear signal that cheating on tax is wrong and reassures people who pay their taxes - the vast majority - that there are consequences for those who refuse to (disclose) their full liability,” Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said in a statement which described those named as “tax cheats”.
The tax authority said the details of defaulters would be published on its website each quarter if the default would have resulted in a loss to the state of at least 25,000 pounds and after appeals have been exhausted.
Those named in the list included a hairdresser, a grocer and a knitwear manufacturer.
Reporting by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Jason Webb