Menace To Tax Dodgers David Cameron Has His Own Tax Dodging Exposed By The Panama Leaks
from the set-the-world-to-PANIC-MODE dept
One of the more darkly entertaining aspects of the massive Panama Leaks has been watching exposed politicians attempting to reconcile past promises to get tougher on financial wrongdoers with their own tax-dodging efforts.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has spent several years in crackdown mode, as the New York Times notes. Going all the way back to 2012, Cameron has made a habit of promising better regulation, stricter enforcement and harsher penalties for tax-dodging corporations while selling himself to voters and small businesses. He also singled out individuals, like comedian Jimmy Carr, for his use of “dodgy tax-avoiding schemes.” He also promised to close a loophole that allowed wealthy UK residents to avoid paying taxes and suggested those that did should face prison time.
He capped it all off with this 2015 election pledge:
“Tackling tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance and tax planning is an important part of our long-term economic plan,” Mr. Cameron said ahead of his Conservative Party’s electoral victory.
He has repeatedly said that “no government has done more than this one to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.”
Obviously, things are different when it’s the Prime Minister doing the tax dodging. His first reaction, when asked about holdings he inherited from his late father, was to develop a sudden interest in privacy.
Asked on Monday whether she could confirm that no family money was still invested in the fund, Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman said: “That is a private matter”.
To his credit, Cameron swiftly walked back that defensive statement. He pointed out that, yes, he did own some shares in an offshore holding scheme as the result of an inheritance, but sold them off in 2010. His wife still owns shares in an offshore trust, but those are declared yearly on her tax returns. Better yet, he has acknowledged that his first response was the wrong response.
Addressing the Tories’ spring forum, he said he was to blame for the handling of revelations about his holding in his late father’s offshore fund.
Days after questions were first raised, the PM admitted this week he had owned and later sold units in the fund.
Cameron has followed through on his promise to release his tax returns so they can be examined for any other irregularities. However, Cameron’s openness is not wholehearted. What has been released only shows his tax payments since selling off his shares in the offshore holding company. Pre-2010 documents — when he still may have benefitted from the tax shelter — have not been released.
He also hasn’t extended his transparency to cover his advisors or members of his party, so the party’s tough stance on tax dodging still may only mostly extend outward.