U.K.’s Osborne Calls for Tax Reforms to Aid Developing Countries

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the U.K. will use its Group of Eight presidency to advance policies on tax evasion, including measures to help poorer countries collect revenue.

“We are determined to use our presidency to drive a serious debate on tax evasion and tax avoidance,” he wrote in the Observer newspaper today. “This will include action to help developing countries collect tax that is due to them.”

Osborne said coordinated action is needed to complement his bid to boost public finances by clamping down on tax evasion. Group of 20 finance chiefs ended two days of talks in Moscow yesterday with a pledge to curb multinational companies’ leeway to move profits to low-tax countries, endorsing a push spearheaded by the U.K., France and Germany.

The U.K.’s overseas aid helped Ethiopia increase tax collection and is also assisting countries including Kenya and Ghana, Osborne wrote. Britain, which took up its presidency of G-8 on Jan. 1, will also seek greater transparency and accountability in oil, gas and mining companies by leading European Union efforts to push for more financial information on their operations by country, he wrote.

Osborne’s Conservatives lost ground in opinion polls this week, according to a ComRes Ltd. survey for the Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror. Support for the party fell one point to 31 percent and dropped three points to 8 percent for the Liberal Democrats, the junior coalition partner. Support for the opposition Labour party fell one point to 36 percent. ComRes interviewed 2,002 British adults Feb. 13 to 14. No margin of error was given.

“It’s certainly possible to make progress” on corporate tax avoidance, Business Secretary Vince Cable said on Sky News today. “Often international companies play one country against another, and it’s sensible that governments should cooperate to deal with abuse.”

Home Secretary Theresa May wrote in the Mail on Sunday that she will introduce legislation that will require the deportation of foreign nationals who commit serious crimes.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.