British people are struggling with their biggest squeeze on living standards at a time of austerity while many high - profile individuals, including the Royal family and giant corporations, are earning billions of pounds through the so - called legal tax avoidance.
Tax avoidance by definition is generally the legal exploitation of the tax regime to one's own advantage, attempting to reduce the amount of tax that is payable by means that are within the law. Tax offenders exploit loopholes in the law to remove income or assets from taxable situations into ones with lower taxes or none at all. Similarly, Britain’s highly abusive tax loopholes allow wealthy individuals & organisations to evade their tax burden, making the most vulnerable people in the society bear the brunt of spending cuts and pay for the rich’s greed. But who are the UK’s biggest tax evaders, depriving British people of millions of pounds that could be spent on public services? In December 2012, Britain's HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) were called on to probe suspected tax avoidance by the heir to the throne Prince Charles’s £728 million hereditary estate, the Duchy of Cornwall. The unclaimed property, which Prince Charles owns, thanks to his royal status under an ancient law, comprises around 53,408 hectares of land in 24 counties, mostly in the south west of England and including the whole of the Isles of Scilly. Charles receives the "revenue surplus" from the estate, and the Duchy's accounts show it grew by 2.8 percent to £18.3 million in the last financial year. The estate’s total worth also grew by £32 million to £728 million due to "buoyant agricultural property values" and accordingly, the British prince’s tax bill rose marginally from £4,398,000 to £4,496,000, an increase of £98,000. The duchy, however, insisted that the state "is not subject to corporation tax as it is not a separate legal entity for tax purposes". But principal judge at the information rights tribunal John Angel ruled last December the property was a separate legal body to the prince. Earning money through tax evasion by the Royal Family is just part of the story. Business giants Starbucks, Google and Amazon were also found guilty of dodging millions of pounds in tax in Britain. It is estimated that the corporate tax evasion is costing the UK economy something between 45 to 90 billion pounds a year, meaning that it is practically undoing all austerity measures as well as widening the gap between the rich and the poor in the British society. Moreover, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been accused of complicity in tax avoidance for more than 25,000 of its employees. The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said discovering the scale of fraud at the BBC was quite shocking. In attempts to identify the deliberate tax defaulters in Britain, the HMRC has published two lists so far. The lists, published in February and May, contained the names of individual tax evaders, including a hairdresser, a coach operator, a knitwear manufacturer, and a tandoori takeaway. Not surprisingly, the British government was stringently criticized for pursuing individual tax dodgers instead of large corporations, which had largely avoided tax and harmed the most vulnerable people in the society.