In the wake of the Panama Papers new data published today finds that 78 per cent of Scottish parliamentary candidates think MSPs should be required to publish their annual tax returns.
The survey, conducted by strategic communications agency Westminster Public Affairs, follows revelations over a number of private and public figures, including the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, having financial links to offshore companies suspected of being used as vehicles to avoid domestic taxes.
The survey found 91 per cent of Scottish candidates in this May’s elections believe all Parliamentarians and members of the Scottish Parliament should commit to not benefit directly or indirectly from offshore tax avoidance schemes.
Over 70 per cent of respondents said that those found to have benefited from tax avoidance schemes should face ‘punitive’ measures. This is perhaps the most striking finding of the survey, given that it’s not illegal to hold investments in offshore companies.
Richard Lyle, SNP candidate for Uddingston and Bellshill, said: “Tax avoidance schemes should be legislated against. Too many people have jumped on this bandwagon and it is unfair to the ordinary citizen who pays their way.”
A candidate for the Scottish Green Party on the Lothian List has gone as far as to already publish their tax returns saying: “I have published my earnings and my tax return for each of the past five years….If elected I will continue to publish my earnings and tax return.”
Other respondents had more blunt proposals suggesting that MPs should either resign, face fines or interest payments, or even face jail.
Commenting on the survey results Olly Kendall, Managing Director of Westminster Public Affairs, said: “It’s clear the political tremors from the Panama leaks are being felt around the world and not just in the London political establishment but in the Scottish Parliament in particular. These Scottish Parliamentary candidates overwhelmingly believe elected officials need to be more open in their financial matters, make their tax record public as matter of course and those who have used offshore companies to avoid paying tax should face punitive measures, even jail.
“The message from Scottish candidates is clear and unambiguous - MSPs must be transparent and above reproach when it comes to their own tax affairs.”