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Balls plans tax avoidance clampdown; Carney a non-dom?

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Ed Balls has announced that a Labour government would introduce a number of emergency measures to curb tax evasion within weeks of victory in the impending General Election.

Launching Labour’s 2015 manifesto, Balls announced a number of headline measures and pledges, including a review of HMRC to ensure the body is suitably equipped to limit tax avoidance.

Also included in the manifesto will be plans to levy significant penalties against tax avoiders, and the closure of various ambiguities and loopholes that effectively legally enable their behaviour. Particular stated targets are ‘self-employment’ rules, dodges that allow hedge funds to circumvent stamp duty and ‘carried interest’ regulations which mean private equity managers can reduce their capital gains liabilities.

Balls believes the measures would net the Treasury a minimum of £7.5bn annually, 50 per cent higher than current coalition targets of £5bn. However, Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has expressed scepticism over the legitimacy of the stated target figures offered by both parties, accusing the pair of “simply making up numbers.”

Last week, Ed Miliband pledged to close tax loopholes around non-doms, drawing criticism from many commentators. Over the weekend, it was revealed that Bank of England governor Mark Carney was himself a non-dom; the BoE was quick to respond to the news, with a spokesperson stating that Carney “pays full UK taxes on his annual salary and allowances.”

“The governor’s non-domiciled status is not a choice,” the spokesperson declared. “It is the straightforward outcome of the tests that determine domicile status in the UK.”

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