Osborne brings in new tax avoidance laws; city minister undermines him

Andrea Leadsom [Image: The Independent].

Andrea Leadsom [Image: The Independent].

George Osborne’s latest attempt to make us think that Conservatives can be tough on tax avoiders has lasted less than a week.

The part-time Chancellor announced measures that meant avoiders faced bigger fines and were more likely to go to jail, on April 12.

What a shame his new city minister, Andrea Leadsom, is facing hard questions over actions she took to cut her own inheritance tax bill, just six days later.

Ms Leadsom is now responsible for the government’s Help to Buy property scheme, making this even more embarrassing as the allegations against her refer to shares in a property company.

The allegation is that she took advantage of offshare banking arrangements for her buy-to-let property company, placing her shares into controversial trusts in order to reduce her inheritance tax bill, for the benefit of her children.

The property firm Bandal, created by Ms Leadsom and her husband, another ex-banker – also created charges over two of its buy-to-let properties in favour of the offshore branch of an investment bank. Apparently this indicates that she obtained loans from the Jersey-based bank that were secured against the buy-to-let properties.

While none of the above is actually unlawful, it does mean there is at least one alleged tax avoider – not only in the Conservative Party but in the Treasury. The self-styled ‘Party of Financial Competence’ has become, once again, the Party of Financial Fiddles.

According to The Independent, “Since becoming an MP, Ms Leadsom has campaigned vigorously against bankers’ bonus caps and a financial transaction ‘Tobin’ tax.

“It is not the first time millionaire Tory ministers have been caught up in tax avoidance claims.

“The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and Mr Osborne were all accused of legal tax avoidance in 2010 by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme. All three men denied any wrongdoing.”

This is a serious embarrassment for George Osborne, who told the nation, “If you’re hiding your money offshore, we are coming to get you,” in a speech last week.

In the case of Ms Leadsom, it seems, he doesn’t have far to go.

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12 thoughts on “Osborne brings in new tax avoidance laws; city minister undermines him

  1. Nick

    this is a daft policy by George as most wealth by top earners is buried away somewhere in a loop hole and always has been to my knowledge back in the sixties

  2. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Leadsom and her tax avoidance arrangements are in the news, but they’re merely the latest in a long series of government ministers and officials using such arrangements to minimise their taxes. Private Eye published a series of articles on some of those doing so when George Osborne remarked a few years ago that he had a ‘moral repugnance’ to those not paying their fair share of tax. Well, his ‘moral repugnance’ didn’t last very long, and as this shows, his other ministers and underlings don’t share it at all. the attitude seems to be that of the ‘Mayflower Madam’. She was a New York brothel-keeper running girls to the rich and powerful. She got her nickname because she came from a very old, patrician line going right back to the first settler. She was busted for not paying her taxes, and was quoted as saying ‘Taxes are for little people’. Sums up the attitude of Osborne, Leadsom and the Tories precisely.

  3. Jim Round

    If new laws were made with regards to tax avoidance (legal but moral?) and tax evasion (illegal) and the richest 10% upped sticks and left (including corporations) where would revenue come from?
    (genuine question, not patronising)

  4. david

    hmm we alwas knew the tories were a party of bankers.Id there anyone who hasn’t been a banker in the party? But if they’re suspected of tax avoidance (legal only because they’ve left loopholes there to use) then their assets should be frozen until fully investigated.

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