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Tax-avoiding celebs drive up taxes for the poor

This news post is almost 10 years old

Christian Aid says those taking part in the Liberty tax scheme are morally wrong

Christian Aid has slammed a group of 1,600 people revealed to have taken part in an aggressive tax avoidance scheme.

The Times newspaper reported the leaked database included names of top businessmen, criminals, celebrities, QCs, NHS doctors, party donors and a judge who were all involved in the Liberty scheme – which is said to have sheltered £1.2 billion from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The international development charity was particularly scathing of singer Katie Melua, whose name was on the list, as she had been nominated for the charity’s Tax Superhero Award four years ago after publicly stating she paid ‘nearly half of what comes to me in taxes’.

Joseph Stead, senior economic justice adviser at Christian Aid, said: “The news is very disappointing. Christian Aid believes it’s morally wrong for people to avoid paying their fair share of tax, because it undermines vital public services such as hospitals and schools and forces up taxes on people who are too poor or too honest to use such schemes.

Katie Melua, one of the celebrities revealed to have taken part in an aggressive tax avoidance scheme
Katie Melua, one of the celebrities revealed to have taken part in an aggressive tax avoidance scheme

“We have campaigned against tax dodging for a number of years because of the way individuals and multinationals use tax avoidance to deprive developing countries of funds needed for crucial services. Companies, and individuals, often make the right noises about paying tax, but don’t live up to them; this is why we have been campaigning for greater transparency on tax.

“To be frank, finding celebrities we could use as examples to endorse our tax campaign was an uphill struggle as we have no idea about the tax status of most. Katie, however, seemed ideal because of her public pronouncements on the subject.”

A spokesperson for The Closest Thing to Crazy singer said Melua participated in the Liberty scheme in 2008 at the suggestion of her accountants and declared this to HMRC.

"When HMRC stated they were reviewing the scheme, she paid the tax to HMRC in full,” the spokesperson added.

“Accordingly, HMRC are not out of pocket and she has not avoided any tax liability."

The government closed the legal loophole in 2009. It is due to be challenged in court by HMRC next March.