The Commons public spending watchdog has no plans to call lawyers before its headline-grabbing inquiry into tax avoidance – at least before the summer recess.
The public accounts committee, chaired by Margaret Hodge MP, has lacerated representatives from the Big Four accounting firms at recent hearings, publishing a 56-page report in April which said they devised ‘complex schemes that look artificial’.
A tax partner at one chartered accountancy firm described it as ‘curious’ that MPs are focusing on accountants and not lawyers: ‘Most of these deals are done in law firms, although it’s much harder to see which firm of lawyers is involved.’
HM Revenue & Customs last month started a fresh crackdown on offshore tax schemes and announced it will look into more than 200 accountants, lawyers and other professional advisers in this regard. An HMRC spokeswoman refused to say how many of the 200 are lawyers.