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May Told to Crack Down on Tax-Avoiding Millionaires

  • Tax receipts of the very rich have dropped, committee says
  • Premier often attacks privileged class not paying fair dues

The U.K. government must get better at collecting tax from millionaires to prove that it is serious about holding the top 1 percent to account.

Individuals with wealth amounting to more than 20 million pounds ($25 million) are provided by the U.K. tax authority with advisers to facilitate their filings, a service that is unavailable to ordinary citizens, the cross-party Public Accounts Committee said in a report published Friday. Since 2009, income-tax receipts from the mega-rich have fallen to 3.5 billion pounds from 4.4 billion pounds.

Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, carries a document folder as she leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly question-and-answer session in Parliament, in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. May is battling a rebellion from her own lawmakers which threatens to complicate her talks over leaving the European Union. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Theresa May.

Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

That statistic is bad news for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has espoused a vision where everyone pays their “fair share of tax.”

“If the public are to have faith in the tax system then it must be seen to have fairness at its heart,” committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said in a statement. “The tax take for this group of people has fallen by 1 billion pounds since HMRC set up its dedicated unit. At the same time, income tax paid by everyone else has risen by 23 billion pounds.”

The panel called on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to explore new measures to prevent wealthy individuals from breaking or bending the law. The recommendations could curry favor with May, who has made income inequality one of the cornerstones of her political message.

At the Conservative Party Conference in October, she called for a “new united Britain in which everyone plays by the same rules, and in which the powerful and the privileged no longer ignore the interests of the people.”

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