Prosecute advisers on tax avoidance, says MP

Advisers on tax who promote aggressive avoidance schemes for their customers to use would face a fine and criminal prosecution if a Tory MP gets his way.

Charlie Elphickle, the MP for Dover, has tabled a series of amendments to the Finance Bill with the effect that advisers would break the law if they helped clients invest in schemes offering a ‘tax advantage.’

Specifically, any adviser who encourages use of “an arrangement that has no business, social or other purpose other than the obtaining of a tax advantage,” would be liable to a fine and prosecution.

Mr Elphickle, a former tax lawyer himself, says he wants to “make it harder for people to game our tax system,” but his framing of arrangements as “tax abuse” is seen as unlikely to make it into law.

On his Twitter page, he explained that he wanted to “tackle the tax avoidance industry,” highlighted recently when Gary Barlow, and two other members of Take That, were accused of using a scheme to avoid tax.

Questioned by the Times about his amendments, the Conservative MP hinted it was unfair to regard him as a “poacher turned gamekeeper” because, he claimed, he had always steered his business customers away from avoidance schemes.

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