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Britain: The Tories won’t deal with this tax scandal. The fingers point too close to home - by John McDonnell

The revelations in the Paradise Papers leak have showed, once again, that our economy is rigged to the benefit of the powerful, the wealthy and giant corporations. While most of us are expected to – and do – pay the taxes that are due from us, a tiny minority operate under different rules. If you’re rich enough, you can join the same exclusive club – a world of offshore trusts and secretive tax havens, administered by offshore specialists like Appleby’s, the firm at the centre of current revelations. It is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us.

What the 13.4m documents that comprise the Paradise Papers show, like the Panama Papers before them, is the sheer extent of offshore tax avoidance. The problem is endemic to the global financial system, and Britain is at the centre of it. Investigations over the summer revealed that more than £1 in every £7 that corporations placed in tax havens came through the UK – making it, with the Netherlands, the largest single conduit for corporate avoidance by some distance. Our historical connections to notorious tax havens such as Bermuda and the Channel Islands, along with the City of London’s massive financial infrastructure, make Britain an ideal sluice for finances seeking secrecy and dodging taxes.

This is not about a few individuals seeking to undermine the system, it is the system. It developed over decades, and ending the unfairness of it will require the serious, systematic efforts from committed governments here and across the world. Thanks to its historical links, Britain is uniquely placed to help end the scourge of tax avoidance, freeing up resources for essential public services like the NHS after years of grinding Tory spending cuts. Labour is absolutely committed to stamping out tax avoidance once and for all. We announced before the election the most comprehensive anti-avoidance programme ever published by a major political party in Britain and are pushing this government hard on the issue.

Read more: The Tories won’t deal with this tax scandal. The fingers point too close to home | John McDonnell | Opinion | The Guardian

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