Overseas tax-avoiders targeted in Alistair Darling’s budget

Hotel News - 25/03/2010

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People avoiding UK tax by having their fortunes invested abroad will face tougher measures according to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling. In his budget speech delivered yesterday, Mr Darling made reference to Tory fundraiser Lord Ashcroft, who will be investigated after a deal was stuck with Belize, the headquarters of his business empire.

The agreement will allow HM Revenue and Customs to look into the billionaire’s tax arrangements in the Central American country, after he admitted early this year that he does not pay tax on his overseas fortune. Mr Darling said during his speech that it was unacceptable for some people for forego their tax obligations while others were struggling in the economic downturn.

Mr Darling added that he is determined to crackdown of overseas tax-avoiders, a statement which was greeted by great cheers from his party. He went on to claim that such agreements with foreign countries could bring Britain an extra £1bn in revenue.

The countries earmarked for the tax information exchange deal include Dominica, Grenada and Belize. Mr Darling said that the deals would be signed within days, with another MP adding that Lord Ashcroft cannot hide with the Labour Party is on his trail.

It is estimated that only a quarter of people declare the income they have in offshore accounts, and the new deal would allow tax authorities in either country to investigate companies and individuals. The well-off will also find themselves further targeted by Labour’s budget, with the introduction of thresholds on inheritance tax and a rise in stamp duties on pricey homes.

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